Parliament Recorded an Increase in Absenteeism- IGR Report

By Ishmail Saidu Kanu

A parliamentary scorecard released by Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) last week indicates that Sierra Leone Parliament recorded an increase in absenteeism of its members. The report reveals that nearly a quarter (24%) of Sierra Leone MPs (35) did not attend half of the 14 sittings between January and March 2022. This represents a 4% drop in attendance when compared to the last quarter of 2021 where 20% of MPs did not half of the sittings, according to the official attendance records published on the parliamentary website.

As stated in its maiden tracker, the purpose of monitoring MP performance is to increase legislators’ commitment to their representative duties and to strengthen the legislative process. According the scorecard, sitting should start at 10 a.m. and is mostly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, just as in the last quarter, Parliament rarely met on time, and we recorded an average late start of about 30 minutes for the quarter as the leadership waited to meet the 25%-member presence required to form a quorum. 

The report also points out that for January 2022 all the three sittings started on time (10am prompt). For February, all the sittings started at 10.40am on average. Average start time in March was 10.28am. 

THREE SITTINGS WITH THE HIGHEST ABSENTEEISM

• February 17th, 2022 – 88 MPs attended (58 MPs were absent) – 39.7%,

• March 15th, 2022 – 88 MPs attended (58 MPs were absent) – 39.7% 

• March 24th, 2022 – 88 MPs attended (58 MPs were absent) – 39.7%.

MONITORING PERFORMANCE OF PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES 

IGR also monitors the performance of the Parliamentary Committee and earlier this year, released a report on the enforcement of recommendations of the annual audit report of GoSL. In total, 2,655 audit recommendations were produced by the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and local councils for the period covering – 2015-2020. Only 38% of audit recommendations were enforced by MPs in the six years. The Committees on Transport and Aviation (60%); Foreign Affairs (46%); Public Works and Assets (45%); and Sports (45%) were high on enforcement of audit recommendations

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MRCG Welcomes Actions of the Security Sector to Ensure Safety of Journalists

MRCG Boss, Dr. Francis Sowa

By MRCG Secretariat

The Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) welcomes the Ministry of Defence (MOD) investigation into the allegations concerning the attack of journalist Maada Jessie Jengo of the Voice of Peace and Development (VOPAD) radio by soldiers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). 

In a press release issued on 8 July 2022, the Office of the Directorate of Defence, Public Relations and Information states that “the MOD regrets the unfortunate occurrence which does not represent the RSLAF core values of good discipline and selfless service.” The MOD notes that its attention was drawn to the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) press release of 4 July 2022 reporting the alleged assault of the journalist.  The MOD release notes that “the soldiers have been identified and an investigation into the allegations is ongoing in accordance with military procedures.” The MOD assured SLAJ of RSLAF’s commitment for mutual cooperation and cordial relationship in the discharge of their duties.

Meanwhile, the MRCG also welcomes the move by the Clerk of Sierra Leone’s Parliament to constitute a committee to investigate an alleged ‘physical assault’ on journalist AbdulaiGbla and make recommendations. The MRCG is also delighted that even before the committee commences investigation, the Clerk of Parliament according to a press release issued by SLAJ had apologized to Mr. Gbla. The MRCG in its monthly Media Freedom Review has been following the matter. Abdulai Gbla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gbla TV Online on 28 June 2022 wrote a letter of complaint to the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) regarding an alleged ‘physical assault’ on him by a Member of Parliament (MP), Hon. Abdul Muniru Lansana of Constituency 121. Hon. Abdul Muniru Lansana in response told the MRCG that he ‘did not assault’ the journalist as he had alleged, but rather ‘hit his phone to stop filming the incident’ after he had previously asked the journalists not to film since the parliamentary sitting had been adjourned. 

The MRCG commends the actions of the MOD and the Sierra Leone Parliament to investigate the matters, and looks forward to speedy investigations. It particularly notes the interventions of SLAJ into the matters and views the steps taken by the institutions as indicative of the fact that the culture of impunity is no longer tolerated in a democratic society like Sierra Leone where the rule of must prevail.

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Press Attachés Donate TV to SLAJ

Members of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) currently serving as Press Attachés at the various Sierra Leone diplomatic missions on Wednesday 13th July 2022 donated a 55 inches Smart Plasma Television to the Association.

The TV was handed over to the President of SLAJ and a cross section of the Executive by Festus J. Lahai and Ishmael Bayoh on behalf of the team.

“When we learnt about the burglary at the SLAJ Headquarters in May this year we felt compelled to pool resources to replace some of the items stolen. This 55 inches Plasma TV is the result of our coming together to give back to SLAJ. We hope it would be useful for the smooth running of the Secretariat,” said Ishmael Bayoh on behalf of his colleagues.

Receiving the donation with apparent delight, SLAJ President Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, thanked the Press attaches for what he described as a ‘kind and thoughtful gesture’, and said the donation was timely.

“Just moments ago before you came we had summoned our colleague Mohamed Murtala Kamara to discuss how we could upgrade the Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall with appliances that will enhance virtual and conference meetings to ensure increase participation of our membership on the one hand, and to increase the value of the hall on the other hand. We asked Murtala to include a bigger TV as part of the items required, and now we have this. Thank you so much colleagues and may God bless you all for coming together to do this for SLAJ,” said Nasralla.

He continued: “This is exactly the ideology of SALT, every member must contribute to the development of SLAJ. Give back whatever you can afford: your time, your talent, your knowledge, your skills, your resources…and make SLAJ great. When SLAJ is great and powerful, we are all covered in that glory.”

Below are the names of the contributors:

1. Rachael Monjama Horner- USA;

2. Sheku Tanga- Nigeria; 

3. Abu Bakarr Bah- Saudi Arabia;  

4. Ishmael Bayoh- Senegal;

5. Mohamed Sheriff- Switzerland;

6. Princetta Christiana Williams- Ghana;

7. Hawa Tucker- Turkey; 

8. Elizabeth Blango- Iran;

9. Betty Milton- Belgium;

10. Mohamed Massquoi- UAE; and

11. Amb. Festus J Lahai- Russia.

-SLAJ Secretariat

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IGR Launches Quarterly Economic Update

By Ishmail Saidu Kanu

The Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) last week launched its Quarterly Economic Update Report at its Spur Road office in Freetown.  

The Update highlights quarterly trends of the Sierra Leone economy. It brings out recent financial and economic indicators to inform policymakers and citizens. This current Update focuses on the last quarter of 2021.

Speaking on inflation and monetary policy, IGR’s Senior Economist, Mohamed Ibrahim Justice Ganawah said the national year-on-year inflation for October 2021 stood at 14.55 percent, indicating an upward swing compared to 11.63 percent in September. He said by November, inflation jumped to 15.77 percent demonstrating a continued increase in the price of basic goods and services. “The last quarter of 2021 saw inflation continue to surge by an additional 2.15 percent, reaching its highest level across 2021 at 17.94% in December”, he added. 

Money supply 

The report states that the trend in money supply throughout the last quarter was expansive. Broad money (M2) increased through the period expanding by about 9.56% between November and December. This was mainly a result of an increase in the net foreign assets during the period being reviewed. Narrow Money (M1) increased during the same period at an increasing rate. In November, M1 grew by about 7.37% whilst the growth was about 10.32% at the end of the quarter. This expansion was attributed to the rise in demand deposits and currency in circulation. 

According to Mr. Ganawah, they noticed a shortage of Leones in circulation throughout the last quarter which was also confirmed by an announcement made by the Bank Governor of the Central Bank of Sierra Leone. “But in December sufficient supply of currency was circulated after the central bank printed money to mitigate monetary pressures”.

Interest rate 

The Senior Economist said in Sierra Leone, interest rate decisions are taken by the Bank of Sierra Leone’s Monetary Policy Committee, noting that the BSL’s official interest rate is the monetary policy rate. He pointed out that the policy rates for October, November, and December ranged from 14 to 14.25 percent, adding that the interbank rates for October, November, and December were 14.41 percent, 14.77 percent, and 15.01 percent respectively. “The average 1 interest rate on saving deposits dropped from 2.27% recorded at the beginning of the fourth quarter to 2.15% where it remained until the close of the quarter. The prime lending rate of 19.03 percent remained fixed throughout the fourth quarter”, he said. 

Exchange Rates 

On the Exchange Rates, IGR’s Senior Economist, Mohamed Ibrahim Justice Ganawah mentioned that the Leone depreciated against the US Dollar (USD) and British Pound (GBP) throughout the period under review. He said at the end of the quarter, the parallel exchange rate of the Leone against the USD showed the highest depreciation (2.72% and 3.54%) for both buying and selling rates. The official exchange rate of the Leone against the USD showed depreciation of the Leone from October through to December in terms of both buying and selling rates

Redenomination 

According to the Central Bank Governor Professor Kelfala M. Kallon, “our current currency is too big to fit into a wallet and we spend too much money printing oversized banknotes.”According to Senior Economist Ganawah: “The implication is that transaction costs are too high, and there is a need to redenominate the Leone. The removal of the three zeros from the currency will not affect its real value. A redenomination is an auxiliary tool for improving the economy, providing the Central Bank with monetary tools to smooth out the effects of the crisis and chronic hyperinflation. Its task is to restore confidence in the national currency, simplify settlements and take control of shadow money. 

Central Bank Governor Kallon stated that the new currency notes will reduce transaction costs as well as provide a “psychological boost to the citizens”. The effect of the currency redenomination will be felt by everyone irrespective of their financial status or earning power.

IGR’s Analysis 

Below, IGR provides brief analyses of various sectors of the economy, vis à vis government policy and programmes that seek to promote economic growth and raise the social standards across the country. 

Road Infrastructure 

Investing in road infrastructure projects is a significant part of the government’s development agenda. The government allocated Le 85 Billion or 4% of non-salary, non-interest expenditure (NSNIE) to the Works and Infrastructure sector of the economy. As one of the primary means of financing these projects, government borrowing has increased and thus continued to put upward pressure on interest rates. The fourth quarter saw a jump in the annual yield of various securities. Financing long-term infrastructure continues to be a challenge for the government. The capital market is gradually developing but yet to reach a stage where it could provide other types of borrowing instruments to facilitate alternative means of project financing. Also, the Ministry of Works and Public Assets has been allocated Le12.3 billion to repair and provide general maintenance of existing government buildings.

Agriculture 

The government continues to promote the agriculture sector and allocated Le103 billion, about 7% of non-salary, non-interest expenditure (NSNIE) was allocated to this sector. 

Sierra Leone’s excessive dependence on imported food items makes it vulnerable to external shocks. The price of the nation’s staple food, rice, continues to increase, a reflection of world market prices. Measures were put in place earlier in the year to increase domestic rice production. Whether this will yield tangible results is not certain. However, to prevent consumers from having to bear the burden of expensive imported goods, the government should encourage citizens to consume what is produced locally. To ensure that this is effective, measures should be taken so that domestically-produced food items are of high quality so that they become substitutes for imported products. 

It was agreed in the Maputo declaration that for African economies to meet the target of halving poverty and food insecurity by 2015, all African countries should ensure that their national fiscal allocation to the agriculture sector is not less than 10%. Sierra Leone is making strides towards this goal. 

With all these allocations over the years Sierra Leone remains far behind in meeting national food self-sufficiency targets. Government is spending over $200 million alone on just rice importation according to the Bank of Sierra Leone. This exerts significant pressure on the US dollar and hence leads to the depreciation of the Leone as against the US dollar as well as rising inflation.

Government 2022 Fiscal Budget 

The government’s allocation for the 2022 financial year was read during the course of the last quarter of 2021. The key highlights of the FY2022 fiscal allocation are focused on human capital development, economic diversification, infrastructure and economic competitiveness, governance, empowering women, children and persons living with disability, youth employment and sports as well as vulnerabilities to climate change and building resilience. We note that for government to meet all or the greater part of its stated priorities in the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP), revenue mobilization (improving domestic revenue collection), addressing strategic vulnerabilities and building resilience in concert with stringent public financial management practices will have to become a top priority. Hence, the composition and allocation of government’s expenditure for the 2022 financial year reflects these identified priority areas.

Conclusion 

The report concludes by stating that the overall assessment of the last quarter for 2021 demonstrates incremental improvements, but there are a number of political and social challenges that impede growth. It says financing long-term investments remains a national challenge as spending on infrastructure projects continues to exert pressures on interest rates as government borrowing increases. It further notes that Covid-19 remains a significant threat to the economic growth of the country. Another major threat to economic growth and development, the report highlights, is the incremental increases in the global prices of oil and other basic goods and services. It ends by mentioning that the reduction in the price of key exportable minerals on the international market could also significantly impact revenue mobilization to the point of impeding capital investments.

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Information Minister Hosts Smart Africa Director General

By Zachariah Jalloh – Strat Comm – MIC

Director General and Chief Executive Officer of Smart Africa, Mr. Lacina Kone has paid the Minister of Information and Communications Mr Mohamed Rahman Swaray an official visit, to discuss areas for investment in Sierra Leone’s digitalization drive.

The meeting, which was hosted in the Minister’s Youyibuilding office on Wednesday 13th July 2022, was also witnessed by the Deputy Minister of information and Communications, Solomon Jamiru Esq. and other senior IT staff of the Ministry.

Addressing the Minister, Mr. Lacina Kone thanked the Minister for the warm welcome and discussed the continued partnership between Smart Africa and the Ministry. He spoke about digital identity, digital academy and the interconnectivity between Sierra Leone and Guinea which is coming back through Smart Africa. In addition, he expressed his fears about the phenomenon of individuals with phone numbers but can’t be identified and urged the need for thorough digital identification. 

“Digital skills will reduce unemployment and ICT has the potential to employ a huge amount of unemployed youths if they are trained and capacitated digitally” he said.

Mr. Kone revealed that as the Director General of smart Africa, he oversees the process of defining and advancing Africa’s digital agenda and has overseen the development of continental blueprints for Africa on Digital identity, ICT start- ups and innovation Ecosystems, Smart villages, and the definition of Africa’s Smart Broadband 2025 Strategy.

In response, Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, expressed his delight in having him in the country to discuss how they can create a synergy with Smart Africa to build resilient digital systems that will improve governance and other social service delivery, while emphasizing Government’s profound commitment to making the country part of the digital world.

Mr. Swaray also spoke about the $50million World Bank Project, which will be rolled out in the coming months and noted that there are components in the Project that the Ministry will work with Smart Africa to achieve.

The Minister was happy to hear about the Digital Academy through Smart Africa which empowers youths to learn digital skills and prepare them for the global digital Transformation.

“This is one of the areas I see the marriage with your efforts and that of World Bank because with the digital academy, I don’t see how we can implement the digital skills training in silos” he said.

In wrapping up the engagement, Minister Rahman Swaray assured the Director General of their continued partnership in developing and advancing the digital aspiration of Sierra Leone.

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Day Break Column

Youths as agency in politics: can we blame the youths of Sierra Leone?

Saidu Bangura, PhD.  

A discussion of youths and/in politics is as controversial a topic as the allusion I have made in the title that youths are agency in politics. Agency as used in this context should be understood to mean “instrumental” given the role youths play or the roles they are made to play in politics. However, when we consider the question “can we blame the youths of Sierra Leone?”, two old but pertinent songs come to mind: Peter Tosh’s “Can’t Blame the Youths” and Musical Youth’s “The Youth of Today”. While both songs may not have been writtento have any political undertones as we may want to imagine or interpret them, some aspects of the lyrics can be juxtaposed to give us an interesting reading in this article, especially as they pertain to how we should perceive youths in society or how they should perceive themselves.  

Peter Tosh’s “Can’t Blame the Youths” opens with a strong but contentious caution “you can’t blame the youths; you can’t fool the youths” whereas Musical Youth’s “The Youth of Today” opens with a straightforward and categorical message: “don’t blame the youth … don’t take us for fools”. When we put both choruses into perspective, the songs seem to tell us the prevailing conditions of the youths in society have nothing to do with them, but what their polities want them to be or how their societies condition them to be. While I do not intend to critique both songs, I equally will not make any critical interpretations here. Rather, some aspects of the lyrics of the songs will be used to make my case in this article. To do so, I may have to pick a few things from the songs and see how they rhyme with the political reality of Sierra Leone and how the youths of our country are consequently impacted by the politics of the day. 

For 61 years now, successive political parties and individual politicians in Sierra Leone have used the youths as agency to launch, promote and champion their political careers, and maintain their grip on political power and the consequent assault on our resources given the politicians’ easy access to the youths and the latter’s prompt willingness to propel the former to Parliament and State House. While the youths may not (have) be(en) aware of how politicians have been “robbing”, “raping”, “kidnapping” and “killing” their future (echoing Peter Tosh) even before the politicians assume their respective offices, and considering the continued and constant “brainwashing” of the youths in Sierra Leone by politicians, my goal in this article is to reflect on how the Sierra Leonean youths have been used, abused, misused, refused, un(der)represented, misrepresented and abandoned by the political parties and politicians in Sierra Leone for the latter’s selfish political gains and that of their associates.    

Considering the sociopolitical and economic milieu in which the African youths were (are) born into, and raised, and consequently survive through, the Sierra Leonean youths inclusive, we learn in Jon Abbink’s article “Being Young in Africa: the politics of despair and renewal” that the African young (wo)man faces a lot of odds and challenges and has no control over her/his future. While some African countries may have made progress in areas such as education that leads to a gainful technical career pathway immediately after secondary school, youth entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for university graduates, access to improved health care facilities, access to a sustainable livelihood and housing for young families, and the creation and promotion of an enabling environment for private businesses to thrive, and, hence, the creation of jobs for the youths, can we say the same for Sierra Leone? 

The continued economic challenges faced by the parents and older relatives of these young (wo)men who could have guided them into a profitable professional path, the unavailability of technical training facilities and institutions for these young people to learn trades that will lead them to becoming self-employed and self-sufficient, their permanently being relegated to unemployment and poverty taking into account the lack of production industries except the few extractive ones, their subsequent exclusion and marginalization from mainstream society unless when needed by rogue politicians, has made many youths to see prostitution as a way to survive, drug addiction as an escape route, the 24/7 laid-back spending time attitude mostly at Ataya Bases, and their relentless following of politicians and other “Big Men” for pittances to execute their political and other errands while they continue poor and destitute. Can this be a result of their hopelessness in laying their hands on something tangibly profitable or is it due to bad politics practiced by our politicians and the culture of dependency installed and maintained for decades?    

Do we blame the youths, or do we blame the politicians for the predicament of the youths? 

The answer to the above question takes us back to the words of the choruses of Peter Tosh’s song: “you can’t blame the youths; you can’t fool the youths” and that of Musical Youth’s “don’t blame the youth … don’t take us for fools”. Or can we (not)? The binary opposition in the words of the chorus of Peter Tosh’s song, “you can’t blame the youths” on the one hand, and “you can’t fool the youths” on the other, introduces us to the linguistic and political dialectics of where and on whom to cast the blame for the predicament of the youths: the fault is not theirs and you can’t make it theirs. Musical Youth’s no-nonsense direct message “don’t blame the youth … don’t take us for fools” is as clear as crystal: we are not responsible for our dilemma; we know where our problems emanate, and we know who to blame. Is it their fault or are they victims of the societies and political dispensations they were born, raised, and live in? Is it the politicians’ fault in not implementing programmes or creating opportunities that benefit the youths or are the youths not ambitious enough to task the politicians to deliver services that benefit the people, particularly the youths, the future of the nation, they govern? 

While we may want to say politicians have been arrogating for themselves and their families and immediate allies all the resources of the state at the detriment of the entire nation, especially these vulnerable young (wo)men who are mostly used for electioneering purposes and abandoned immediately after that process, are the youths themselves not responsible for their conditions? The culture of dependency on the affluent cultivated and cared for by the politicians and other prominent citizens has made many people, especially the young (wo)men who are in the majority, not to be too concerned that time wasted is never regained or to aspire for a better future for themselves. 

The instrumentalization of the youths by politicians due to the former’s socioeconomic vulnerability and their lack of a sustainable means of sustenance, livelihood, and economic engagement and independence, makes one wonder: why do people go into politics? Do they go into politics to serve the people and their communities and consequently the country as a whole or do they go into politics to serve themselves? The answer to these questions depends on where you find yourself, and probably how you perceive politics and political participation. 

If the youths constitute agency in politics or are instrumental in the election of who govern them, then those who govern owe the youths a huge responsibility. On this note, Musical Youth’s resounding statement that “The youth of today has got lots to say/It’s our life, it’s our future/Because we’re living today/So don’t blame the youth” becomes so relevant for the youths of Sierra Leone as for the UK youths then that the song may have been made for. 

Inasmuch as we may want to apportion blames on the youths for their plight in Sierra Leone, and much as we must encourage them to own their responsibilities, we must consider the following: (a) what existing national, regional, district, town, and community level programmes are there to remove our young (wo)men from their current socioeconomic predicament? (b) what is the income level of the older family members of these young (wo)men? (c) what is the educational level or what do the parents/guardians of these young (wo)men do? (d) where do these young (wo)men come from, where do they currently live and how do they earn their living? (e) are they in conflict with the law and if so which area(s)? (f) what do they aspire or want to do in life? and (g) how and where do they spend the day? These questions and many more like them should be on the minds of current and aspiring politicians if we are to build a nation that cares for its future. Today’s youths are tomorrow’s politicians, law enforcement officers, teachers, nurses, and other state functionaries. 

As I have written in some other articles, our politicians are selfish. The politics of Sierra Leone is about them and their cronies and immediate family members. Our Parliament is a theatre of dramatic monologues and political party soliloquies. The problems of the country are not part of the order of their discussions. Our MPs are actors whose scripts contain bills that benefit only them and their political parties. There was no controversy over the Welfare Bill for Parliamentarians (Parliamentary Act 2022), which was for the benefit of the entire membership of Parliament, but for others that present political disadvantage or advantage to one side of the aisle or the other, the petulant bickering is unending (the case of the Proposed Public Elections Act 2022). The basic needs of the people are never discussed in parliament because they are very much unconcern about the future of the people they claim to represent, especially these young (wo)men that they instrumentalise before and during political campaigns, and consequently abandon them after elections, and whose aspirations and future are never discussed in parliament. 

Until our politicians understand that one goes into politics to serve the country and its people and not to get rich, and to prepare the present generation to take after them irrespective of their socioeconomic background and political affiliations, the responsibility of our young (wo)men is on them. Until our politicians understand that they need to have tangible programmes that are executable so that today’s youths can be well prepared for tomorrow’s challenges, the future of our country is bleak. Until our politicians understand that siphoning off our resources for their personal benefits and that of their immediate families and cronies is a disservice and a threat to the sustainability and peace of Sierra Leone, these young (wo)men that are neglected today and whose future is not a concern, will be tomorrow’s aching challenges.

For the 2023 municipal and town council, parliamentary and presidential elections, I would love to see a serene but politically challenging and active youth; a youth that will tell the politicians to bring their children and other family members in their campaign trail; a youth that will ask politicians what programmes they have for their communities and the future of the nation, especially the future of their group – the youths; a youth that will refuse to accept drugs and alcoholic drinks, T-shirts and peanuts to campaign for people that will abandon them immediately after the results are announced; a vigilant youth that will discourage politicians from buying their way to political offices; a youth that will ask critical questions about how and why the country has been mis-governed for 61 years by two political parties, and how it will be governed for the next five years; a youth that will be more concerned about the future of the country, and less so about the religion and sex of the candidates, or the ethnolinguistic group and region a candidate hails from; a youth that will put the future of the country first, second, third, fourth and fifth and hence tell the politicians that the future of the country is at stake and it is their biggest concern; a youth that will not fight other youths for politicians or for political parties, but will engage themselves in civility and camaraderie as they challenge politicians for the future of Sierra Leone.

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Citizens Manifesto Report Launched

By Ishmail Saidu Kanu

The Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) together with the Review Committee of the Citizens’ Manifesto (CM) Steering Committee on Thursday 7th July, 2022 launched the Assessment Report on the Citizens’ Manifesto in order to develop citizens’ capacities as decision-makers in selecting the type of leader they wish to elect and to make political leadership more responsible through persistent dialogues between citizens and political leaders.

The ceremony which took place at the New Brookfield’s Hotel in Freetown brought together Steering Committee members including Civil Society groups and the media to discuss the report. 

According to the Executive Director of IGR, Andrew Lavali,the idea of a Citizens’ Manifesto (CM) is to place citizens at the forefront of shaping a democratic and accountable political system in Sierra Leone. “The initiative is a collaborative action of several established civil society agencies, media outlets, and formal and informal institutions that are dedicated to improving good governance in Sierra Leone”, he added.

Mr. Lavali continued: “In November 2017 when the country was preparing to hold its presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2018, there was a tense political atmosphere between the two major political parties, the APC and the SLPP, and a vibrant presidential flagbearer from the NGC party. The Citizens’ Manifesto initiative intended to shift the growing tension in politics to policy-driven discussions by helping voters better understand the value of their votes rather than simply relying upon self-serving politicians, hence, the “My Vote, My Life” catchphrase. 

“As the nation is now preparing for its upcoming June 2023 elections, the general political discourse is bordering largely on “ethno-regional politics, hate messages spread via social media, especially from those who reside abroad and send abusive and incendiary messages into the country, and intimidation of dissenting voices by “security personnel”. These unpleasant developments have potentially devastating consequences on the country’s democratic consolidation process.

Making her presentation, IGR’s Governance Expert Emmanuella E. Sandy mentioned that the review process looks at the commitment made by political parties/candidates during the Launch of the CM. “It assesses the extent to which issues raised by citizens were adopted into party manifestos and/or policies leading up to and after the March 2018 general election. It also provides an assessment of the incumbent’s uptake of citizens’ demands in the first year of administration. Seven issues were identified in the 2017 CM; these issues have been reviewed to highlight the progress made, as well as to make recommendations for robust advocacy efforts and monitoring of the indicators”, the Governance Expert noted. 

Emmanuella Sandy

She further outlined the key contents in the report: “The seven issues in the CM are Asset declaration, Women’s political representation, Youth political representation, Representation of persons with disabilities (PWDs), Citizens’ shares in mining and agricultural investments, Transparency in campaign financing, and Commitment to the following targets in the first year of the winning (incumbent) administration. These targets are the right to food, housing, health, education, and a national cohesion policy to unify the nation, 20% of national revenue allocated for education, 20% of domestic revenue allocated for health, repeal of the criminal libel law, and the execution of programs to save the environment.

“The Review process further aims at revisiting the intent of strengthening citizens’ capacities as decision-makers in choosing the type of leader they seek to elect and making political leadership more accountable through sustained dialogues between citizens and political leaders. The objective or goal is that through this process a people-centered political system and leadership that is responsive to citizens’ priorities would emerge”.

Speaking on the methodology, Mrs. Sandy pointed out that the review process is in two parts; the first six issues identified within the CM have to do with the commitments of the 2017 presidential candidates, saying it looks at the uptake of the indicators by the candidates while the second aspect concentrates on the seventh indicator, which has six sub-indicators that comprise the incumbent’s uptake on the commitment to the sub-issues. 

“Generally, uptake of the CM by the presidential candidates was minimal. The commitments from political parties/candidates are gauged by party manifestos as well as policies/laws that have been enacted by the incumbent that speak to the seventh indicator. The latter has achieved some progress, although some of the achievements were not accomplished within the first year of administration as prescribed in the CM. Additionally, some issues were not achieved as citizens requested”, she stated. 

She concluded by saying that there is a need for continuous advocacy campaigns on identified CM indicators after every election, maintaining that asset declaration is an approach that seeks to minimize corruption in a nation that routinely scores high on corruption indices over the years by anchoring the issue of ethics and integrity to the political class. “Hopefully, the next district consultation captures and expounds on this so that CSOs can design a robust campaign on Assert Declaration”.

The report was launched by Josephus Ellie, Governance Advisor of Irish Aid SL.

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Ernest Koroma Attends High Level Meetings in Zambia & Tanzania

Former President of Sierra Leone, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Wednesday 13 July 2022, departed Freetown for Lusaka, Zambia. He will be attending the Advisory Board meeting of the Brenthurst Foundation scheduled for 14th to 16th July 2022. 

The Brenthurst Foundation is a think tank with “a focus to attract the investment needed for continental regeneration and prosperity.” Therefore, President Koroma will join other leaders, diplomats, policy experts who make up the Advisory Board from across the continent, to continue deliberations on development and investment in Africa. 

While in Zambia, the Foundation will pay a courtesy call on host President Hakainde Hichilema.

From Zambia, the former Sierra Leonean leader will proceed to Arusha, Tanzania. There, he will deliver the keynote address at the Africa Drive for Democracy Conference slated for the 20th to 22nd July 2022. Under the aegis of the Strategic Litigation, MS Training Center for Development Cooperation and the Institute Security Studies, the conference brings together participants from over thirty countries to renew commitments on the promotion of democracy viz a vizthe guaranteeing of a safe space for democracy activists, as well as to share experiences on the trends on the rapid decline of democracy in Africa. 

President Ernest Bai Koroma will be sharing his rich experience in building peace and democracy in Sierra Leone, as well as the ECOWAS sub region. As the organizers put it: “we would like your Excellency to reflect on your experience in Sierra Leone and what lessons could be replicated in the continent.  Based on these reflections, for your Excellency to discuss the role of civil society on the continent (notwithstanding all its limitations) in the democratization process…”               

The former President will return to Sierra Leone on July 24 2022.

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

As Parliament Swears in New MPs

APC Regains Majority with 59 Seats 

Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Paran Tarawallie on Wednesday sworn in Jawah Sesay of the All People’s Congress as Member of Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

The ceremony took place during parliamentary sitting where MPs of the main opposition APC celebrated, chanting their party song.

Jawah was elected MP on 25th June during a parliamentary bye-election in Constituency 056, Tonkolili District, NorthernSierra Leone. 

Jawah polled 5,487 votes. Being the highest number of valid votes cast, was duly elected Member of Parliament for Constituency 056 in the Tonkolili District.

According to the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone, seventy (70) polling station results were entered into the result database, representing 100% of all polling stations in the Constituency.

It says the voter turnout was 10,417 out of a voter register of 20,581; giving a percentage turnout of 50.6%. The total number of valid votes cast was 9,675. There were 742 invalid votes, representing 7.1% of total votes cast.

Welcoming the New MP to the House, Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Chernor Bah thanked the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) for conducting a free and fair election. “I call on all citizens to support NEC. We should not put ECSL under any undue pressure. I want to congratulate the new MP”.

Leader of Government Business, Hon Matthew Nyuma:”I call on the new MP to always make use of the Standing Orders. I congratulate you. I am happy the opposition is commending ECSL.

Speaker, Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu also commended ECSL. “The ECSL is doing well. You MPs should all thank them. Continue to do what is right and proper in accordance with the laws of our land. Thank you for a job well done”, he said.

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

WAEC Witholds 59 NPSE Results

Basic Education Minister, David M. Sengeh

Government of Sierra Leone on Monday released to the public the 2022 National Primary School Examination (NPSE) results. According to the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, this is the earliest release date in the last decade. “This matters because it gives parents and families enough time to help their children and wards prepare for the new school year. When families and children prepare, they perform better”, he noted.

He said hard copies of result packages are being prepared now for distribution to all schools that entered candidates. “Simultaneously, soft copy versions will be soon made available on the Government Service Delivery platform developed by the Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation. The free SMS Result Checker mean that in addition to families not paying for school and exams fees; they shouldn’t have to pay to also know the result of their wards, thanks to His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio’s commitment to Free Quality School Education. 

“162,068 candidates entered the exam. That is 79,617 (49.1%) boys and 82,451 (50.9%) girls. 421 of these students are Sierra Leoneans in Guinea. For a third year running, this is the highest number of students ever registered for this exam. Candidates sitting the exam numbered 161,797 – that is 79,477 (49.1%) boys and 82,320 (50.9%) girls.

“We have so far received results for 4,635 primary schools, 23 of which were in Guinea. 59 results are currently being with-held due to some form of irregularity that have been detected and reported by West African Examination Council (WAEC). These irregularities range from impersonation to carrying foreign material into an examination room to collusion to entering the exam under false pretences. WAEC expects that the committee which takes final decision on this matter will meet in September. Our government will continue to crack down heavily on examination malpractice until we can fully sanitize our system.

“I should use this moment to state that it is not right that students from classes 4 and 5 continue to attempt these exams. Quality education is much broader than one’s performance in an examination and that is why we have developed new curriculum to strengthen the foundational skills of our students during pre-school and 6 years of primary education. 

“This year, from the 162,068, 131,433 candidates, comprising 65,152 boys and 66,281 girls, passed the NPSE in 2022. These are candidates whose aggregate scores were on or above the cut-off score of 230 stipulated by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education. 

“The total number of passes corresponds to an overall pass rate of 81.2%. This is a 4.2% improvement from the overall pass rate in 2021 which was 77.0%. 

“Regionally, the best performances were North, followed by South and Eastern Region and the top five best performing Districts are Falaba, Bonthe, Koinadugu, Kenema and Bombali respectively. The top 2 districts had over 90% pass rates.

“It is also worth noting that 10 districts, that is: Bonthe, Koinadugu, Kambia, Bo, Kono, Moyamba, Tonkolili, Western Rural, Port Loko and Karene had higher pass rates this year than last year. These districts are moving in the right direction and are worth commending. 

“At the school level, 1,071 out of 4,635 schools (23%) had 100% pass rates; that is, all their candidates who attempted the examinations passed. This is an increase from the 20% of schools that had 100% pass rates in 2021. Apart from the Western Area, all other regions and Guinea had more schools getting pass rates of 100% this year than last year. 

“Disappointingly, 114 schools across the country had zero percent pass rates. The Teaching Service Commission is already working with such under-performing schools and additional support is planned but as it usually happens, heads of schools with zero percent pass rates, accompanied by their proprietors, School Management Committee Chairpersons and District Deputy Directors of Education will be invited to explain the cause of the poor performance and to help map out actions to improve learning and performance in the affected schools. As a government, we have also started the implementation of Performance Based Financing across primary schools and will roll out an USD 18 million Education Outcomes Fund in September to continue improving quality of learning and teaching. 

The top performing schools nationwide based on the average aggregate scores of all their candidates are: 

1. Tutorial Centre for Academic Excellence Primary, Talent Town, Makeni

2. Hillside School of Excellence, Freetown 

3. Edna Primary, Circular Road, Freetown 

4. Mereweather Preparatory School, Freetown, and 

5. Rising Academy Primary. Calaba Town 

Now for the best three individual performances nationwide

Tied for 2nd place with an aggregate T-score of 334 are 

● Nesralla, Tyra, School Leone Preparatory Primary School and 

● Sesay, Angella J. M., from The International School Ltd. 

And with a score of 337, our best candidate from The International School Ltd. is 

● Pabs-Garnon, Lorraine M. 

The Minister continued: “The 2022 NPSE was the first national school examination conducted during the post-CoVID recovery period. Public concern about the integrity of national school examinations meant that the stricter measures adopted since 2020 continued. This initial analysis of performance suggests that the impact of exams irregularity on results was negligible. 

“Performance in the 2022 NPSE suggests that candidates are being better prepared by our schools. I would like to thank the excellent work of our committed teachers. We are grateful that just last month, together with the Sierra Leone Teachers Union, we negotiated a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with much improved conditions of service for teachers. 

“As a country, we must continue with our progress. The performances of districts from economically poor and rural regions are encouraging. More girls attempted and passed the exam and the national pass rate of 81.2% is the highest ever. Congratulations to the people of Sierra Leone. 

“The national office of WAEC deserves a big congratulation for getting scripts processed, marked and released to the MBSSE the earliest in over a decade. WAEC continues to be a good partner to us. Thanks also go to the examiners who worked really hard to complete the marking of scripts in a timely manner. 

“I cannot end without congratulating the students and families who worked tremendously hard during the 2021/2022 academic year ignoring all the distraction that were taking place around the world. It is our hope that the improvements that we have noted over the last few years will continue and that performance in 2023 will be even better than this year’s. Let’s keep transforming education”.

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

UNSPOKEN

Author Rahima

Alas! This journey we traverse
We meet as saints and sinners in the universe
The hero and the villain, mute they are. Not a word each to other, The silence of a man, is his loudest voice.
Trouble sunk deep into our minds and with our thoughts, we dined.
Yet, our eyes still look for ways to see the unspoken messages of the heart.

Lightening blast through the palm trees. No horse to carry the king of Judah. In Freetown, you give an eye to be free. If he feeds the creatures in the air be assured to leave tomorrow to him. Unhesitant man will climb through thorns but his love is given over adequately. A burden to lay at his feet with a promise that he will never leave nor forsake us. Yet, our nose still find ways to breathe in the unspoken messages of the heart.


The shorter route they say we should avoid.
Who wants to travail this path forever when enemies deploy.
Soon darkness engulfs, owners of the dusk will throw festivity, night watchers, as hill heave their shades not a solitary light to incorporate all in.
Angels and demons keep wake together we believe.
Yet, our ears still listen for ways to hear the unspoken messages of the heart.



In thoughtlessness, we are left.
The dilemma of life, the road not taken
Deep regrets and buried confusion of
Sheer thoughts, no love lust within thy self awakens.
Emphasis on vain things, moonbeam sliced through from enviable dividend.
Yet, our mouths continue to search for ways to speak the unspoken messages of the heart.



Ignoring every commandment in the wise book.
Obedience is better than sacrifice. half a night of golden past. Covered in larvae a feast on the carcass.
Can the sons of men distressed God? waste the longest time in forte with defiance we portray.
Yet! our hands continue to touch for ways to feel the unspoken messages of the heart.

©By Rahima Vandy Kargbo otherwise known as dasalonetiti-Rahima

https://www.dasalone-titi.com

International Community Present Bye-elections Report to ECSL

It’s mandatory for observers to give reports after observing elections. Therefore, representatives of the European Union, Ireland, Britain, and the US Ambassador met with Commissioners of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) to give feedback on their observation of the Parliamentary and Local Council bye-elections held on Saturday 25th June, 2022.

They congratulated the Commission for conducting free, fair and credible elections and that the results were acceptable by the people.

They gave feedback on the following: The high number of invalid votes, high security presence, the professional performance of the ECSL staff, and the integrity of the staff.

The Chief Electoral Commissioner, Mohamed K. Konneh said the Commission has always been and will continue to conductfree, fair and transparent elections.

Other Commissioners expressed their satisfaction at the formal report of the International partners and asked that they do a press release on it including a congratulatory message to the Commission.

In another engagement, Commissioner Edmond Sylvester Alpha of the Southern Region gave updates on the Commission’s Electoral activities such as recruitment of Ward Coordinators which is on the final stage and the ongoing recruitments of voter registration personnel.

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

ACC Boss calls for collective action in the fight against corruption.

ACC Boss, Francis Ben Kaifala

Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Francis Ben Kaifala has called for collective action in the fight against corruption. 

He was speaking during a Public Lecture organised by the Kenema District Youth Council in collaboration with Eastern Technical University Students’ Union Government, at the Kenema City Hall, Kenema, Sierra Leone, on 2nd July, 2022.

The topic was: “YOUTH, THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION AND GOVERNANCE”. Below is the full statement delivered by the ACC Boss:

INTRODUCTION 

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, please permit me to stand on existing protocols.​Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, popular American movie actress, Jennifer Lawrence, once remarked that: “We need to tell each other our stories. We need to show that everyone — our neighbors, our families, our community leaders — everyone we know is touched by corruption.” 

Corruption is defined by Transparency International as “the abuse of power for private gain.” The organisation goes on to explain the following ways by which corruption can be committed: “public servants demanding or taking money or favours in exchange for services; politicians [or people in position of trust] misusing [public funds or] money… corporations bribing public officials to get lucrative deals.”

For the World Bank, it is seen as “a form of dishonesty or criminal offence undertaken by a person or organisation entrusted with a position of authority. “ 

As I have often said, Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019 does not provide a definition of the term. But the two pieces of legislation guiding our work, outlines a list of offences and practices which constitute an act of corruption. They include; Bribery, Misappropriation of Public/ Donor Funds/Property, Corrupt Acquisition of Wealth, Unexplained Wealth, Bid Rigging, Impersonation, Failure to Declare Assets, etc. 

Ladies and gentlemen, issues of corruption have been at the fore of governance discourse in the last decades. This is because we cannot maintain democratic good governance in a society where corruption is pervasive. 

What is [Good] Governance?

‘Governance’ itself is defined by the United Nations as “the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented).”

Governance is now synonymously used with the term ‘Good Governance’ or ‘Democratic Good Governance’, which is “participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law”. 

From the aforementioned definition, we know that some of the key features of good governance include accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency and the rule of law. 

Accountability is derived from the Latin word ‘computare’, which means ‘to count’. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “to be accountable required a person to produce “a count” of either the properties or money that had been left in his care”. 

Transparency is closely related to accountability and it is used to denote openness, responsiveness and honesty. As KristalinaGeorgieva of the World Bank puts it, “a lack of transparency fuels corruption, a corrosive force that hits the poor and the vulnerable the hardest.”

The rule of law, on the other hand, as propounded by English jurist, A.V. Dicey, is administration by the law only, where all men are subjected to the same and equal treatment under the law in a way that is devoid of arbitrariness. 

Effectiveness and efficiency refers to the proper use of public resources to ensure proper public service delivery. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the fight against corruption cannot be won without paying close attention to some of these key features of good governance. It is a must that we constantly pay attention to them. 

THE PROBLEMS OF CORRUPTION

And when it comes to combating corruption, there is no other urgent social menace we must address as a nation. Apart from what we have already read from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report that it was one of the major causes of the decade-long civil war that we experienced in the 1990s, corruption is also responsible for most of the severe social, economic and political challenges we currently face today: lack of proper social amenities, high rate of unemployment among young people, political scuffles and skirmishes, among many others. 

The OECD acknowledges the problems of corruption and sums it up by stating that “corruption threatens good governance, sustainable economic development, democratic processes, and fair business practices.” 

The organisation goes further to say that “corruption’s damaging effects spread far beyond where the corrupt act is committed, throughout the global economy and society.”

That is why the poor and vulnerable of every society have always been adversely affected by acts of corruption. Perhaps that is why Pope Francis once remarked that “Corruption is paid by the poor.”

Former President of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn, at the annual joint meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the Bank in 1996, described the scourge as a ‘cancer’ as it “diverts resources from the poor to the rich, increases the cost of running businesses, distorts public expenditures and deters foreign investors”.

The current President of the US Joe Biden, once described corruption as “a cancer that eats away a citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity.” 

Ladies and gentlemen, President Dr Julius Maada Bio recognised the challenges of corruption since he was elected by the people of this country, which is why he declared this cancer as something that needs serious attention. 

I believe some of you have been following the work and activities of the Commission since the President made those declarations. Our decision since then was to take all the steps necessary to defeat this monster.

THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN SIERRA LEONE

The fight against corruption has been hinged on a multi-prong approach of public education, prevention, investigation and prosecution. The first two of this approach is often referred to as the ‘Carrot’ approach in the fight against corruption.

The Commission’s public education mandate is derived from Section 7(2)(o) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019, which provides for the Commission to educate the public about the dangers of corruption and the benefits of its eradication. With this, the Commission has been able to wage a massive public education campaign targeting schools, tertiary institutions, public and private institutions, communities and every facet of society, using both traditional and social media. 

The prevention aspect of our work encompasses the conduct of systems and processes reviews in public offices. This is derived from Section 7 (2)(f) of the Act which mandates us “to examine the practices of public bodies in order to facilitate the discovery of corrupt practices or acts of corruption and to secure revision of those practices and procedures which in the opinion of the Commission, may lead to or be conducive to corruption or corrupt practices.”

According to the International Development Association (IDA), “Countries with strong institutions prosper by creating an environment that facilitates private sector growth, reduces poverty, delivers valuable services and earns the confidence of their citizens – a relationship of trust that is created when people can participate in government decision-making and know their voices are heard.”

The Commission has over the years made tremendous efforts to build public institutions to make them resistant to corruption and at the same time effective and efficient in public service delivery. We have also made revenue-generating institutions generate more revenues for Government.

Part of our prevention drive is our work through the National Anti-Corruption Strategy Secretariat, which is responsible for the coordination and rolling out of the country’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS). The current strategy, which runs from 2019 to 2023, has the establishment of Integrity Management Committees (IMCs) as part of its key component.

The function of these Committees is to identify and address corruption issues within their respective institutions. I often refer to them as mini anti-corruption bodies within these public institutions. 

The other aspect of our approach in the fight against corruption is enforcement, which is also known as the ‘Stick’ approach in the fight against corruption.

This involves investigation and prosecution of persons suspected of committing an act of corruption. 

Nobel Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu once said that “if impunity is not demolished, all efforts to bring an end to corruption are in vain.” So this approach is meant to address impunity by making sure that the corrupt are brought to book for their crimes.

We have employed this approach to bring to book corrupt persons irrespective of their region, religion, or political party affiliation. And the statistics are there to show that I -and my team at the ACC- have been able to make the gains we continue to make because of the non-discriminatory way we conduct our anti-corruption campaign.  We cannot be making all the gains we have made as a nation if we continue to target only one set of people all the time. 

GAINS MADE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN SIERRA LEONE

Ladies and gentlemen, when we talk of gains we do not talk of things we arrogate on ourselves. We talk of gains which respected and reputable international and local bodies, often after their scientific studies backed by credible data, would turn around and tell us: “this is how far you have come and how much you have achieved”.   

In the United States’ Millennium Challenge Corporation scorecard, for example, we have massively progressed from 49 percent in 2017 to 71 percent in 2018, 79 percent in 2019, 81 percent in 2020 and the current score of 83 percent.

Studies by Transparency International based in Germany have also shown that the robustness we have put into the fight against corruption has caused the country to move 15 places up in their Corruption Perception Index from 130 in 2017 to 115 in 2021.

A local consortium of civil society organisations led by the Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL) also undertook a credible survey which shows a massive reduction in corruption prevalence in the public sector from 70 percent in 2017 to 40 percent when the survey was last conducted in 2020.

In the area of recovery, we have been able to recover over Thirty-five Billion Leones of stolen public funds from corrupt individuals through our novel Non-conviction Asset based Recovery system.

We have also been able to recover huge funds for other public and private institutions, and vehicles and a hotel which have been handed over to the State. This is unprecedented. I mean it has never been achieved by any ACC Commissioner before me. 

HOW YOUNG PEOPLE CAN CONTRIBUTE TO GOOD GOVERNANCE AND THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN SIERRA LEONE

The United Nations estimates that the current global population is 7.8 Billion, and this is expected to grow 8.6 Billion by 2030. Africa’s population currently stands at 1.2 Billion, with 75 percent of this composed of young people under the age of 35 years. 

Sierra Leone’s population is estimated at 7.5 million, according to provisional results of the 2021 mid-term population census conducted by Statistics Sierra Leone. It is further estimated that about 80 percent of the country’s population is made up of young people under 35.

One-third of this is between the ages of 15-35, which is defined as Sierra Leone’s youth bracket. 

Ladies and gentlemen, irrespective of the huge number of young population in Africa, the young people of the continent have always been one of the most disadvantaged. This is why I want to encourage you to take advantage of your strength and the available opportunities to contribute to the promotion of democratic good governance and the fight against corruption.

You all should be conscious that you have the means and the power to defeat corruption. You just need to have the consciousness, which the founder of Transparency International, Peter Eigen, spoke of when he said “People should be conscious that they can change a corrupt system”. Get the consciousness that this is a duty! For Kurt Cobain of the rock band, Nirvana, once loudly remarked that “the duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” 

With such consciousness and duty you can:

▪️ Serve as informants and whistleblowers to expose corruption in your communities;

▪️Set up youth groups to serve as anti-corruption ambassadors in your universities, communities, etc;

▪️Champion the cause of the ACC and stand by the institution at all times; and

▪️Raise awareness about the dangers of corruption in your institutions or communities.

However, one of the foremost things you can do for yourself is to empower yourself with education and the skillsets needed to extricate yourself and your family from poverty.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all know the great opportunities this Government has provided for young people as part of its Human Capital Development. 

From the education sector, we know of how Government has upgraded certain institutions –including the Eastern Technical University- to university status. This will definitely translate into more support, more facilities and better quality. 

We know of the ‘Youth in Agriculture’, ‘Youth in Fishing’, the Car Wash project, soft loans given to small and medium enterprises which are mainly owned by young people, the students’ loan scheme for university students like you, and a host of other empowerment interventions. Grab these opportunities.

In a country currently confronted with cases of examination malpractices, I encourage you to stay away from such practices. Study hard. Work hard.  Always play by the laid down rules and procedures. 

CONCLUSION

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have endeavored to give you a few ways we can leverage the capacity of young people in the fight against corruption. As it stands, Sierra Leone’s greatest hope lies in you.

On an advantageous note, we have identified corruption as a common enemy; we must now attack head on because our very survival is at stake.

This is a watershed moment in our history.

We should either get it right and prosper as a country or get it wrong and perish as a people.

As a nation, this our generation must take collective action against the cancer called “corruption”.  Together, we can win.  We should forget our differences and build on our uniting factors and commonality in the fight for the soul of our collective destiny. We should draw from the valour and courage of great forbearers like Bai Bureh, Sengbeh Pieh, ITA Wallace Johnson, Kai Londo, Nyangua, Ella Koblo Gulama, Lamina Sankoh, Constance Cummings-John, etc. and join to redirect our country’s destiny in the right direction. 

Now is the time to join the bandwagon of the informed and not the uninformed and reject the chicanery of the uninformed to keep our people in political bondage! 

But as I keep on saying, we will continue to fight corruption as if we are losing. But we cannot always fight all by ourselves. We need the people of this country to fight along with us. Be on the side of the Commission no matter the kind of fraternal relationship existing between you and the person that is in the ACC net. 

You should not even act indifferent. For as Delia Ferrira, Chair of Transparency International, puts it; “People’s indifference is the best breeding ground for corruption to grow.” So, I encourage you to instead act to make a difference. Be that faithful voice even among the cynical voices. 

Like Padme Amidala of Star Wars puts it “there are still those of us who work to overcome corruption and believe it to be possible.” I encourage you to be among those holding that belief.

Every generation has its defining moment; this is ours. Let us wear our girdles, embrace this fight, and together wipe corruption out of Sierra Leone! 

God bless Sierra Leone!

© Public Relations Unit, ACC

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

Statistician General & Vice Chair of UN Statistical Commission speaks on Gender Statistics

The Statistician General and Vice Chair of the UN Statistical Commission, Prof Osman Sankoh COR (Mallam O.) has  taken part in a high-level round table discussion with the visiting Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Ms Asa Regner  who also doubles as the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women. 

The panel discussion was held in the conference room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and was chaired by the Minister Prof David Francis.

Ms. Regner is on a working visit to Siera Leone alongside Ms.Oulimata Sarr, the Representative and Regional Director of UN Women for West and Central Africa.

The meeting discussed amongst other things the status of Sierra Leonean women in socioeconomic development of the country and the strides towards gender empowerment.

In his contribution, Mallam O. referred to his recent talks at the UN Commission for Population and Development on the digital divide and another at a PARIS21/UN Women conference on financing gender statistics. 

“For Sierra Leone, the time is tight,” he said. “We have political champions and a Ministry specific for gender and children’s affairs. And we have a National Statistics Office which has placed premium on digital data collection, hence it’s possible to disaggregate data by sex and make such data available for policy and planning processes,” concluded Mallam O.

Among the high dignitaries present were: Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Deputy Minister of Finance II, Director of Research at MoF, DG of MoFAIC, Assistant IGP and the UN Resident Representative.

© Stats SL Comms & PR Div.

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Economic Column-Welfare and Inflation: A Case Of Sierra Leone.

By Mohamed Ibrahim Justice Ganawah (Senior Economist/Lecturer-FBC)

It is important to note that most people in Sierra Leone, still do not understand the dynamics of inflation. Inflation is the decline of purchasing power of a given currency (say the Leone) over time. A quantitative estimate of the rate at which the decline in purchasing power occurs can be reflected in the increase of an average price level of a basket of selected goods and services in an economy over some period of time. The rise in prices, which is often expressed as a percentage, means that a unit of currency effectively buys less than it did in prior periods. In all of these cases, the money ends up losing its purchasing power. The mechanisms of how this drives inflation can be of three fundamental causes. These are:

➢ Demand-pull inflation refers to situations where there are not enough products or services being produced to keep up with demand, causing their prices to increase.

➢ Cost-push inflation, on the other hand, occurs when the cost of producing products and services rises, forcing businesses to raise their prices.

➢ Built-in inflation (which is sometimes referred to as a wage-price spiral) occurs when workers demand higher wages to keep up with rising living costs. This in turn causes businesses to raise their prices in order to offset their rising wage costs, leading to a self-reinforcing loop of wage and price increases.

Why Is Inflation So High Right Now in Sierra Leone?

The recent inflation rate in Sierra Leone of 24.87 percent andthe continuous increment in the inflation rates around the world rose to their highest level since the early 1980s. While there is no single reason for this rapid rise in global prices, there has instead been a series of events that have worked together. 

The COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 led to lockdowns and other restrictive measures that greatly disrupted global supply chains, from factory closures to bottlenecks at maritime ports. At the same time, governments issued stimulus checks and increased unemployment benefits to help blunt the financial impact of these measures on individuals and small businesses. 

Also, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24th February 2022 led to a series of economic sanctions and trade restrictions on Russia, limiting the world’s supply of oil and gas, since Russia is a large producer of fossil fuels. At the same time, food prices rose as Ukraine’s large grain harvests could not be exported. As fuel and food prices rose, it led to similar increases down the value chains.

Sierra Leone is an import-driven economy which means so much dependence on imported goods for local consumption. Sierra Leone has raised fuel prices 120 percent in the last six months (January- June 2022) from Le10 to Le22.  This 120% rise in the fuel price is the highest in the world. Even though the Russia-Ukraine war is a contributor, this stellar rise is also caused by taxation on fuel by the government. The increase in fuel prices has a ripple effect on all essential goods and services. 

Also, it is important for us to know that the depreciation of the Leone is also a major cause of the inflationary pressure we are experiencing in the country. 

The Way Forward

Government should subsidize the fuel so that fuel prices willfall or better still remain in their present state in the country. Similar approaches are being followed by both developing and developed countries around the world. 

The mining companies do enjoy a whole lot of tax waivers and still enjoy the same fuel prices as the common man. The government should ensure that the mining companies buy for themselves or buy in forex from the oil marketing companies. This will reduce the pressure on the small quantity that is been bought for the general population.

Also, the government has done well in increasing the storage facilities for petroleum products. The government should now try to up its game in making sure they fully utilize the storage facilities. According to the Minister of Information and Communication, we are yet to utilize 50 percent of the facility. With this everyday disturbance in the global supply chain, it makes a whole lot of sense to buy in large quantities to reduce the number of times buying on an annual basis. 

Government should reduce the taxes on major economic sectors that support ordinary citizens and businesses. Examples of such sectors are the energy sector (which includes household and institutional electricity consumers and the fuel market) and the marine sector (which includes fishing companies). 

In conclusion, the government should work on all the available avenues to reduce the suffering citizens are going through as a result of this high inflationary trend.

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

Final Batch of Sierra Leone Pilgrims Leave for Mecca

By Abubakarr Bah, Information Attaché, Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone

The third and final batch of Sierra Leonean pilgrims in Lungi are checking-in to depart the Freetown International Airport (FNA) for the Holy land of Makkah, to perform Hajj, the fifth Pillar of Islam.

Already, about 680 Sierra Leonean pilgrims, who safely landed at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Saudi Arabia on Friday and Saturday respectively, have successfully performed Umrah and are now comfortably waiting in Mina for the third and final batch to join them in the Hajj journey to Arafat to fulfil one of the major pillars of Hajj.

Despite the many challenges faced by the Saudi authorities in facilitating this year’s Hajj for Muslims across the globe, the Government of His Excellency President Dr. Julius MaadaBio has worked assiduously to ensure that all the batches of Sierra Leonean pilgrims arrive safely in Makkah with no major immigration issues.

Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh on the 1st July, 2022 virtually moved his office to Lungi to help supervise the entire Hajj process.

Unlike some Guinean pilgrims who were deported just after they landed in Saudi Arabia, the 15 Sierra Leonean pilgrims that had immigration issues at the King AbdulazizInternational Airport in Jeddah were cleared to perform this year’s Hajj following the intervention of Ambassador Dr. Ibrahim Jalloh and his team at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Saudi Arabia. 

On Monday, the Minister of Social Welfare, Hon. BainduDassama, assured the last batch of Sierra Leonean pilgrims in Lungi that the Government of Sierra Leone has successfully negotiated with the Saudi Authorities for an extension of the stipulated deadline to ensure that they are flown to Saudi Arabia to perform the 2022 Hajj.

Sources from the Lungi International Airport say the Ethiopian Aircraft that would fly the third and final batch of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia has already landed  at the Lungi Airport and would depart with the pilgrims shortly.

A total of 1,080 pilgrims from Sierra Leone are expected to perform this year’s Hajj in the Muslim Holy Land of Makkahin Saudi Arabia.

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

SDI Condemns Arrest and Violence against Women Protesters.

The Society for Democratic Initiative (SDI) has condemned the action of the Sierra Leone Police with regards arrests and violence against women protesters in the country. 

“On 4th July 2022, two peaceful demonstrations were held across Sierra Leone. The first action saw commercial motorbike riders, keke drivers and commercial vehicle drivers, including poda-podas, buses and taxis, hold a nationwide strike sit-down action. The transportation sector demonstration was held to call attention to the difficult economic situation, increases in the price of fuel and dramatic inflationary rises in commodity and food prices”, the release states.

It continues: “The Groups of market women, traders and business women, on 4 July 2022, also joined the demonstration by marching on the streets, carrying banners and plaques and calling for the government’s attention to the severe economic hardship faced by women and the citizenry of Sierra Leone. 

“The peaceful demonstration on Monday 4 July 2022, saw the flagrant disregard of human rights by Police and security authorities. Violence and abusive language were used by the security apparatus against some women protesters. Forty-seven (47) women were arrested across Freetown and Masingba, according to the Police Media spokesperson. 

“On Sunday 3 July 2022, two truckloads of armed OSD personnel surrounded the home of Unity party Chair, Femi Claudius-Cole, on allegations of incitement. Claudius-Cole surrendered herself at CID Headquarters and was arrested and detained. Leader of the National Grand Coalition party, Denis Bright, who appeared with Claudius-Cole at CID, was also arrested and detained. 

“Sierra Leone is a democratic state and must welcome peaceful protests from its citizens. Chapter III of the 1991 Constitution guarantees and provides for “the recognition and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual”.

“These fundamental Human Rights are, inter alia, the Protection from Arbitrary Arrest or Detention (Section 17); Protection From Inhuman Treatment (Section 20); Protection of Freedom of Expression and the Press (Section 25); Protection of Freedom of Assembly and Association (Section 26).

“SDI recognizes the authority of the laws of Sierra Leone especially the 1991 Constitution. SDI also recognizes the authority of several international treaties and declarations, which also guarantee human rights. 

“The current economic situation in the country, and around the world, is difficult. Inflation runs into the high teens. The prices of food, produce, and basic necessities of life have risen significantly over the past five to six-months. The concerns of all citizens of Sierra Leone deserve to be listened to and heard. The rights of all citizens need to be respected and promoted. 

“The Society for Democratic Initiatives condemns the actions of the Sierra Leone Police on the following grounds:

The arrest peaceful protesters, who were not armed with offensive weapons.

The arrest of prominent, high-ranking opposition politicians.

The blatant abuse and misuse of their powers.

The Society for Democratic Initiatives – Sierra Leone (SDI-SL) is a non-governmental organisation established in June 2003, with the vision to ensure accountability in governance, advocating for the promotion and protection of people’s rights with emphasis on women and children’s rights.

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

Afrimoney Launches Payment Fees to Liccsal Students.

By Moses Kay Fembeh

Staff of Afrimoney on Wednesday 6th July, 2022 launched their second payment of tuition fees to students of LiccsalBusiness College at Wilberforce village, Freetown.

It could be recalled that the first payment of tuition fees waslaunched at Canadian college, Mile 91 in June this year. 

Registrar of the college, Rev. Philips S. Godwin expressed his profound thanks and appreciation to staff of Afrimoney, pointing out the difficulties students sometimes face in accessing payment system at the banks and the economic situation in the country which is not motivating. 

“This is the best idea so far. It will surely help our students toavoid the stressful situation at the bank. Therefore, I’m encouraging parents and sponsors to grab this great opportunity by making their students’ tuition payment throughAfrimoney”, Rev. Godwin said. 

Board chairman of Liccsal Business College, Mr Mackay threw light on the importance of digitalisation and globalisation, in the sense that the digital is fastly taking over the world. He admonished students and those gathered at the launch of the digital money that everyone should accept.

Martinson Obeng-Akuei is the Director of Afrimoney in Sierra Leone. He spoke on the importance of digital money by encouraging students to involve in digital marketing through their computers after the completion of their studies. 

“Our Afrimoney initiative will help you as a student to save time and money. Imagine your college bank is all the way East End, and you have the tuition fee with you on the day of exams and you are told to pay before taking your examination. Do you want to tell me that it would be possible to pay on that same day and be able to write your examination? No! So to avoid all of those things that is why we have come up with this initiative to your doorstep so that we all could benefit as good neighbours and countrymen”

“This will also help the government to avoid lots of expenses on printing money and you, yourself would not move around with physical money. I can also assure you that we have over 600,000 agents nationwide and that means we have assigned 600,000 agents to you”, he noted.

Principal of Liccsal Business College, Mrs. Cecilia Bangura applauded the director and staff of Liccsal Business College, expressing profound thanks for making it a reality. According to her, when Sheikh Omaru Jalloh, Head of Sales and Marketing met her to discuss the Afrimoney proposal, she was afraid, probably thinking that their college account might be frauded but Mr. Jalloh and team persuaded her that, that would not happen. So she accepted the idea. 

“Today on behalf of the board, students’ body, staff and management of Liccsal Business College, I hereby formally launch Afrimoney at our college”, she proudly announced. 

Afrimoney staff, James Tommy introduced the use of the code *161#. “When you dial that number, the person should select 2 and after selection he/she will see other options and select 11 which is “next” and the student (s) will see 1 and 2 as options and 1 is school and 2 is tertiary and the student must select 2 and continue with the process his/ID number will be needed and confirmation pin or password of the student”, he explained.

Tommy promised to forward the video clip to all the 110 students that were at the event.

Abu Vandi who is a student of Liccsal Business College commended the director and team of Afrimoney for thinking about them, noting the huge opportunity it’d give them as students.

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

Journalists Trained on Climate Reporting

By Ishmail Saidu Kanu

Catholic Relief Service (CRS) in partnership with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has concluded a two-day training on Climate Reporting for about 15 journalists in Freetown.

The exercise focused on CRS’ programming in Sierra Leone, Effective Communications in Climate Change, Fundamentals Climate Science and Climate Change, Climate Change and Sustainable and Development and Field Visit. 

Addressing participants, CRS’ Technical Partnership Advisor, Dennis Momoh said they believe in partnership hence the reason for the training together with SLAJ. “We’ll continue to strengthen our relation with the media”, he added. 

Mr. Momoh noted that the Fourth Estate has the power to influence decision, and can report issues around climate change for a better world. 

“Sometimes last year, we had an engagement with the media and this is just a continuation of what we started in 2021”

“I want to recognise your role towards nation building. I assure you of CRS’ commitment towards the media. We’ll continue working with journalists all the time”.

Financial Secretary of SLAJ, Mohamed Konneh thanked CRS for the partnership to organize a training on Climate Change for the media.

He pointed out that climate change is a major problem in the world today, stressing the increase in heat wave in Sierra Leone and the world at large. 

“SLAJ supports this training because the environment is key to our existence. So I urge colleagues to take the training seriously”, he admonished adding “Be an environment journalist today and help save the environment tomorrow”. 

Climate Change Consultant, Amara Salami Kanu was the facilitator for the two-day exercise. 

CRS started work in Sierra Leone in 1963 carrying out the commitment of the Catholic Bishops and the Catholic community of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas.

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“Vote me as President of UNIMAK Law Society” -Abass Mamud Sesay

“Vote me as President of UNIMAK Law Society”-AbassMamud Sesay

Abass Mamud Sesay who hailed from the Northern part of Sierra Leone, Makeni Town started and completed his primary and secondary education at the St. Francis Secondary School, Makeni. 

During his secondary school days, Abass served in many leadership capacities as school prefect, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Information and Communication. He also made countless representations for his school in many debating competitions across the country.

Upon completion of his secondary school education, he gained admission into the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology-Freetown Campus where he read Architectural Technology before he travelled to the United State of America to Study Leadership and Civic Engagement at Kansas State University. Currently, Abass is a third year student at Limkokwing University pursuing his Bachelor in InteriorArchitecture and also a third year Law student at the University of Makeni (UNIMAK).

Abass brings on board 6 years of Civic Society leadership,gleaned from NGOs including AANSL, UNICEF, CDC, and Plan International. As a Youth Advocate, the perfect Law student has earned distinguished career in youth and women’s empowerment, youth leadership with domestic, PublicSpeaking and capacity-building in both national and international platforms. 

As a community development activist, Abass is the founder and current CEO of Active Ambassadors Network Sierra Leone (AANSL), a non-profit NGO that works towards promoting climate change, girl-child education, youth and women’s empowerment and youth leadership training. 

Through his organization and lobby prowess, over 10,000 youths especially women and children have benefited from his projects with support from IREX, United State Department of State, US Embassy in Freetown, Elliot School of Communication, Wichita State University and Kansas Leadership Center all in the US. 

Abass has achieved several international recognitions and to date, he is one of Sierra Leone’s finest young leader. In 2016, he was the recipient of the Queen’s Commonwealth Youth Excellent Award on Sustainable Development (The Queens Award for Youth), a recognition that was recommended by the Ministry of Youth Affairs. Abass is a 2015 cohort Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Alumni, a U.S. government signature effort by former President Barrack Obama to invest in the next generation of African leaders and to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across sub-Saharan Africa, he is also a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow, one of the biggest Youth Leadership platforms in the world that trains future African Leaders, a fellow of the most prestigious Obama Foundation Fellow for African Leaders-a recognition that he received together with the current ACC Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala as the two qualifying fellows in 2018/2019. Also, Abass is Young World Ambassador, a recognition he received together with the former member of Parliament Hon. Osman Timbo(Youngest) as the only two qualifying Sierra Leoneans. In 2015, Abass was appointed by YALI management in Ghana to represent YALI in the MO Ibrahim Foundation award program where all African Presidents meet annually to celebrate leadership and good governance. He has been recognised as the most Influential young leader in Sierra Leone by Student without Boarders in Cotonou, Benin, at their Africa Youth Leadership Summit in 2015. Abass is also a 2016 UN Asia Model United Nations Ambassador, a YALI Network Influencer and the current PRO for West Africa Young Leaders Association, a 2015 TedX Speaker, a writer, mentor and a public speaker who has mentored and inspired thousands of youths in the country.

Abass has remained a true gender activist and someone who believes in inclusiveness. 

His leadership experience and exposure speaks volumes of him as a true definition of leadership and thus, the most suitable person for the position of PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY.

In his recent engagements with LLB1&2 students in their various classes, these were the words of Abass: “I know that the world needs more women who are skilled, problem solvers and leaders, and our law society too needs them if we are to make progress as a department”. “My vision is to ensure that I provide a safe and a level playing field for all women in the law department to unleash and exhibit their expertise (s) and develop new skills in which they can be used in their career, classrooms, businesses and organizations in addressing perennial problems”. 

He further adds: “His goal for the department is to ensure that we bolster our credibility, trust, and professional leadership skills amongst women, and to see more women excelling in diverse fields and thus, have the exuberance and confidence in adding their voices to contemporary issues in our department. It’s undisputed fact that the success of the society hinges largely on our women as they’re the movers and shakers of development in all folds”.

In demonstrating true leadership, Abass cited examples of his goodwill he has undertaken in and outside the ambiances of UNIMAK:

The provision of a new i5 Desktop Computer for students to be using in undertaking myriad of research, Electrical Fans for the classrooms, a multi-task printer and photocopier and cleaning sanitizers and sprayers for our Law students hostel dwellers. 

Notably, during the past Law Society Executive, he had helped them in diverse ways like lobbying for materials and finance in setting up the Law Resource Center, assisted in the creation of the Law Garden, sponsored the moot court competition and that of the most successful law tour in which he singlehandedly fuelled one of the busses. 

Notwithstanding the current Law Society Executive, Abasshas been an active supporter of the society in all activities undertaken by the current executive such as financially supporting the Executive on the just concluded Mooting Competition, assisting the society team in-kind and financially as well as providing snacks for all Law students that attended the just concluded Law Tour by the current Law Society Executive. Notably Abass financially supported the just concluded inter classes football competition and that of the just concluded inter departmental competition. 

To the General Students Body, Abass has over the years assisted many Law students on one-on-one tutorials and had organized group tutorials at the hostel from which the current LLB 2 students benefited from that. To many, it is not a novelty that Abass has been tirelessly helping students with reading materials as well as making notes for them on key modules including the current LLB1 students who have also benefited from that. 

Abbas’s ambition for the society was born out of the fact that the law society is one of the biggest at UNIMAK, however, he does not believe it has necessarily fulfilled its responsibilities to its students fully over the past two years. Whilst it has put on some memorable events, he wishes to continue on that path If elected as President to do more and better for society. Abbas’s agenda will focus on robust advocacy for all law students, ensure that students’ welfare is his top priority, lobby for more support to be provided to students especially those that are extremely challenged financially, develop and launch a leadership and mentorship scheme to empower students at the department, organize conferences to inspire students to speak up and provide leadership training as well as expose more students on international conferences to develop their skills through State department programs, develop an all-inclusive programme of events that tailor to the diversity of students at the law department, reform the system of personal tutors and the departmental study aid for academic excellence as well as expand student welfare provision. “I am ready to serve, listen and learn from you all as a humble servant and leader by putting the interest of the student first in all I do”.

The change is now, vote me in as your president of the Law Society for effective leadership, fearless advocacy, accountability, competency, Inclusiveness and Students Welfare.

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

At UNESCO Breakfast Meeting….

President Bio calls for Political Will & Scale-up Investments in Education.

By Betty Milton, Information Attaché, Brussels, Belgium

In his opening remarks at the SDG 4 High-Level Steering Committee Meeting on the margins of the Transforming Education Pre- Summit in Paris, President Julius Maada Bio who doubles as Co-Chair of the SDG 4 High-Level Steering Committee, has urged all governments that “there is the real risk of a generational catastrophe if we do not enkindle the necessary political will and scale up investments in education”.

He added: “We must generate the necessary political will and muster a committed global movement to make the desired change happen”.

President Bio maintained that the meeting provided a valuable opportunity to respond to the call for stronger leadership, greater political will, and bolder action in favour of education and lifelong learning. 

The Sierra Leone President and Co- Chair recognised that education is the most powerful investment for sustainable future. He also spoke about the urgency of the global learning crisis, and the need to transform education systems. He continued: “we therefore urge the need for a genuine shift in mindsets towards the HLSC’s Call for Action for the Transforming Education Summit.”

On the Draft Message by the SDG 4 High-Level Steering Committee, President Bio described it as a message of warning and hope, adding: “a message of warning, because the cost of inaction is intolerable; a message of hope, because the opportunities for genuine transformation are considerable”. 

As a strong believer of quality education especially at an early stage the President emphased that education provided the essential pillars for building peaceful, democratic, and inclusive societies where there was respect for human rights, a healthy planet, and a sustainable future for humanity.

The President called on members of the SDG 4 High-Level Steering Committee that they have a collective responsibility to seize the momentum created by the UN Secretary General’s Summit to make the case for transformation in education and as representatives of our respective regions and constituencies, they have a duty to mobilise their countries and all key stakeholders. 

“All actors must urgently pursue both inclusive and equitable education and lifelong learning for all. This is the very essence of the HLSC’s Call for Action. We must therefore strategically use that as a wake-up call,” President Bio stated.

Co- Chair of the SDG4 HLSC, Madam Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, in her statement said looking beyond the crisis of the COVID, there were other challenges before the COVID-19 and were still prevailing which had affected the world and the educational sector especially the technological disruption and the climate change.

She added that, to guide their efforts they needed to look at the coordinated work done by UNESCO on the future of education which offered solid and shared foundation for global education. 

Audrey Azoulay further stated that the role of the Committee was essential as it mobilised leaders of the world to defend and define their nations’ priorities and to better align the financing of these priorities.

Copyright © Hereos Media Newspaper

Le 15.7bn For 5,058 Primary Schools.

The Ministry of Basic & Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) has disbursed school grants valued at Fifteen Billion Seven Hundred and Twenty-Nine Million and Two Thousand Leones (Le 15,729,002,000) directly to 5,058 public schools running a full cycle primary education from classes 1 through 6. These grants, based on data collected in March 2022, were disbursed on 15 June 2022 as Performance Based Financing for Term 2 of the 2021/22 academic year, and they seek to improve various components of quality education at the school level. 

The Government of Sierra Leone currently provides largescale support, including provision of teaching and learning materials, and financing (fee subsidies) to ‘government’ and ‘government-assisted’ schools at all levels. However, these resources are not always adequate to cover all the expenses and needs of beneficiary schools and ‘unapproved’ schools do not currently receive such mainstream government financial support. 

The Performance-Based Financing (PBF) school grants are innovative additional resource-support packages to schools that amplify specific learning and administrative outcomes. The size of the support is dependent strictly on performance metrics – the school gets more of the standard PBF grant if it improves student attendance, retention and progression and improves teaching and learning outcomes. Schools with special needs and circumstances (i.e., unapproved or small schools, schools in poor communities, or schools with students with disabilities) also receive extra funds. Guidelines for the use of PBF Grants are available in the PBF Manual on which all School Management Committees (SMCs) and Head Teachers have been trained. Parts of these resources could be used for payment of stipends to community and volunteer teachers, payment of staff bonuses based on performance, and supporting school operations. 

As part of this project implementation, MBSSE received technical assistance under the Free Education Project from the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovations (DSTI) to introduce the Open ‘Government to Person’ (G2P) framework to accelerate cash transfers to the schools. The platform integrates the data collection on the schools’ performances on the PBF indicators, calculation of the grants, and transfer of funds to the schools’ accounts in real time in a secure manner. As a pilot from this collaboration between MBSSE, DSTI and the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, One Hundred and Fifty-Seven Million Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Thousand Five Hundred and Ten Leones (Le 157,766,510) of the total amount was transferred to 58 out of the 5058 school accounts using the (G2P) payment mechanism. This automation and digitization will provide rigor, transparency and efficiency to the system when scaled in the future. 

The Government of Sierra Leone Free Education Project / Multi-Donor Trust Fund is implemented by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education through the Free Education Project Secretariat and it is supported by World Bank (IDA), European Union, Irish Aid, Foreign Commonwealth Development Office, and the Global Partnership for Education.

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On Sexual and Health Rights, UN Resident Coordinator calls for Collective Action.

UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi has called for collective action to reinvigorate efforts to ensure sexual health and rights of all, and, in particular, to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence. 

He was speaking at the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights conference in Freetown. 

“Our world is currently experiencing upheavals that if not addressed immediately, will have tremendous impact on our future. The underlying truth borne out by evidence is that every crisis we have, has a decidedly young, female face”, he said.

The UN Resident Coordinator added: “In Sierra Leone, this is the face of a frightened young woman grappling with gender-based violence. This is the face of a 16-years old pregnant school girl, who is among the 21 per cent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 that were found to have begun child bearing. This is the face of a young girl, kept out of school due to female genital mutilation rites coupled with pandemic disruptions, and further exacerbated by poverty, lack of social safety net, and digital divide.

“Unfortunately, these challenges are not just found in Sierra Leone, but are replicated to varying degrees across Africa. 

“The 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, therefore, provides a timely opportunity for all stakeholders to rethink and renew our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals – in particular Goal 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls. The theme of the conference, “Accelerating the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence in Africa” is a call to action for stakeholders to reinvigorate our efforts to ensure sexual health and rights of all, and, in particular, to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence. 

“This requires collective action. People, including youth, civil society, the media, the private sector and other stakeholders, need to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformation. Across Africa, we need to build stronger partnerships, mobilize more resources, and provide innovative and sustainable solutions to address sexual and gender-based violence. In our respective countries, we have to embed the needed transitions in the policies, budgets, institutions, and regulatory frameworks of governments, while ensuring that the most vulnerable, including women and girls are protected and empowered. 

“The solution to so many of Africa’s biggest challenges is likely right in front of us: the realization of the full rights and potential of women and girls, and young people in general. 

“When individuals can exercise real informed choice over their health, bodies and futures, they can contribute to prosperous societies and a more sustainable, equitable and just world. 

“By prioritizing agency and the empowerment of all people — especially women, girls, young people, and the most vulnerable — so they can finally exercise real, informed choice over their health, bodies, and futures, we can unleash a powerful, reinforcing cycle of gains. 

“Therefore, let us collectively take advantage of the transformative opportunity this flagship regional Conference presents to us. Let us work diligently and together to reverse our current trajectories. Let us recommit ourselves towards sustainable and equitable development, where the most vulnerable, especially young people and women, free from sexual and gender-based violence, are at the centre of economic and social development. 

“This is how we will achieve the Africa that we want – an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa progressing towards the Sustainable Development Goals”, he ended.

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Statistics Sierra Leone to spend US$4m after World Bank Approval.

The World Bank has recently approved US$4m to be utilised for various statistical activities and building of district offices successfully presented and defended by Stats SL as part of the Institution’s Harmonizing and Improving Statistics in West Africa (HISWA) project.

The Statistician General and CEO of Stats SL Prof. Osman Sankoh (Mallam O.) was visibly excited about this clearance for his team to implement key activities before the end of the year. With the few words “God is great!”, he quickly changed into top gear to begin the engagement with his team on the deliverables.

The results-driven Deputy Statistician General Mr Andrew Bob Johnny thanked the World Bank for its positive consideration of Stats SL’s proposal for the year and he said this would enable pre-construction work for an ultramodern HQ complex at Tower Hill in Freetown in the coming two years and an impressive presence of Stats SL’s own office buildings across the district and regional headquarter towns in Sierra Leone.

Providing some specifics, Mr Albert Bangura-Will, the HISWA Project Coordinator said that the approved US$4m for 2022 would allow Stats SL to effectively prepare for several statistical activities. These include: an agricultural census; a census of business establishments: a new Sierra Leone Integrated Household Survey; and generation of credible administrative data.

Appreciating the World Bank for its favourable decision on behalf of the Statistics Council, the Chairman of Council Mr Moses LJ Williams said that Stats SL couldn’t have been on a better footing to implement its planned activities for the year. He urged Management to continue to be effective and efficient in their work.

The HISWA grant funds are ably managed by the Project Fiduciary Management Unit (PFMU) of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) led by the Team Lead, Mr Alpha Sesay.

©️ Stats SL Comms & PR Div

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55-year-old man in custody for penetrating two kids

By Pastor Mohamed Sesay

55 years old Abu Koroma, a security guard at Medicines San Frontier, is currently detained at CID HQ, Pademba Road, Freetown, after he was captured when he was on the verge of escaping from his Waterloo residence after he was suspected of having sexually penetrated two kids aged 9 and 11.

The suspected pervert who is a relative of his victims, is said to have lured the kids from their town of Warridala in the Biriwa Chiefdom northern Sierra Leone on the pretext that he was taking them to the city to educate them.

The unsuspecting parents of the kids agreed not knowing that Abu Koroma is a paedophile who had in the past exhibited his sexual appetite for kids.

The suspected beast was to later turn the kids into his sex slaves taking turns on them at his evil will.

The children were suffering but they couldn’t explain to anybody for fear that Koroma will kill them through juju.

It was only an observant teacher at the school where the two kids were attending, that noticed the kids’ behavior to be abnormal.

The kids were to later confide in the teacher about what Koromathe monster was doing to them.

It was authorities at the school who alerted the police and on the nick of time the police pounced and they found the demon, Koroma packing his belongings to escape but he was cornered and arrested.

The suspected child penetrator, thinking that what he did is just a small thing and it is believed that Abu Koroma is trying to compromise the matter at the station.

But the Comment newspaper is watching the every move of the police in the matter and therefore calling on Don Bosco and other child right activists to intervene to ensure justice for the kids.

Investigation continues!!

Copyright © Heroes Media Newspaper

“Blacklist Underperforming Contractors’’ -Local Government Minister Orders Local Councils.

By Frederick V Kanneh, Information Officer, MLGRD.

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Amb. Tamba Lamina has ordered all local Councils to stop giving contracts to contractors that are not worth the salt.

Amb. Tamba Lamina gave this directive while representing the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone on an official handing over ceremony of 22 motor bikes provided by the Road Maintenance Fund Administration (RMFA) to Engineers in the Local Councils for supervision, monitoring and evaluation ofroad maintenance activities in their localities.

“I’m admonishing all Engineers and leadership of the Local Councils to blacklist contractors that do substandard job when contracts are awarded to them. This is because their underperformance is a disappointment to you, the residents of your communities and the Government as a whole,” he ordered in his keynote address while stating that it’s the responsibilities of the Councils and Engineers to make sure that the contractors perform their duties in line with the goal and scope of the contracts, which is why they should not compromise with those categories of contractors.

Minister Lamina further thanked the leadership of RMFA for capacitating the Engineers of the respective Councils with motor bikes which will ease their movement while monitoring road maintenance activities in their communities, adding that as a Minister who is always with the Local Councils, he knows exactly how important the bikes are to the beneficiaries.

He maintained that even though the Government is contending with so many challenges ranging from the effects of  COVID-19 to the repercussions of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine , the Local Councils still keep getting support from the Government and other development partners, citing the “Local Authorities’ Project” that the Famino Municipality in Italy through the European Union had  implemented in five Local Councils and the “10 million Euro EU supported funding projects” in five District Councils, amongst others.

He ended up by appealing to the beneficiaries of the motor bikes to use them for the intended purpose and make sure that they arealways in working order.

The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of RMFA, Basiru Sannoh, intimated the gathering about the achievements of the RMFA and the reason why they provided the bikes to the Engineers. Statements from different stakeholders also formed part of the handing over ceremony followed by cutting of the ribbons on the bikes by Minister Lamina.

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Education is not a privilege; it is a fundamental human right.

-President Bio tells World Leaders

By Augustine Sankoh, Strategic Communications Analyst, MBSSE

President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Dr. Julius Maada Bio as Co-Chair of the Sustainable Development Goal-4 (SDG4) High-Level Steering Committee during the segment consisting of Ministerial and Stakeholder engagement has emphasized during his opening remark that education is not a privilege, but a fundamental human right.

The Transforming Education Pre‐Summit is organized in Paris on 28‐30 June 2022. A Global Engagement Day on 28 June included technical meetings on Thematic Action Tracks and engagements with key stakeholders and this was Co-Chaired by the Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Dr. Moinina David Sengeh.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the current global economic crises have further amplified the severe education funding gap. We must therefore use this Pre-Summit strategically to rally all forces behind the call for inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all. We do so because education is not a privilege; it is a fundamental human right,” President Bio said.

He calls on all to collectively advocate that education is not a cost but an investment in the sustainable future of their societies, children, and the planet, adding that he cost of inaction is simply not acceptable and they must therefore assume collective responsibility for taking resolute action for education.

“We must stay focused on using the opportunity offered by the Transforming Education Summit to position education at the top of the political agenda of member states. We can do so with concrete commitments supported by strong political will at the highest levels,” he said.

As Co-Chair of the SDG4 High-Level Steering Committee, President Bio assures all that the Steering Committee stands ready to fully support, monitor, and carry forward the impetus created by the Summit.

I thank her for UNESCO’s exemplary leadership and tireless efforts in advancing Sustainable Development Goal-4.  

According to President Bio, the most vulnerable, most marginalized, and most disadvantaged learners count on education stakeholders to deliver on implementing SDG 4 by 2030, so it is their collective responsibility to call for immediate and bold action towards that end.

He said education is a driving force for sustainable development, noting that it is a powerful lever for responding to some of the most pressing challenges faced by humanity including climate change, migration, youth unemployment, healthcare, and peaceful and just societies.

He said it is also a cross-cutting accelerator for the advancement of all the other SDGs, noting that any integrated, holistic, multi-sectoral approach to sustainable development must include education.

“The HLSC’s Urgent Call for Action is a call to Heads of State and Government to invest in and transform education as the clearest pathway to our shared goals of peace, prosperity, sustainability, and building resilience,” he said.

The overall objective of the Pre‐Summit is to harness the evolving discussions on transforming education, elaborate initial content and establish a shared vision and suggested actions for the Summit, and generate greater momentum in the lead up to September.

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We should not play politics with the economy- Hon. Chericoco

Leader of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) in Parliament, Hon. Chernor Maju Ramadan Bah has told colleague MPs ‘not to play politics with the Economy’. 

Wrapping up the debate during the presentation of theSupplementary Government Budget and Statement of Economic and Financial Policies for the Financial Year, 2022 in the Well of Parliament on Friday, Hon. Chericoco, as he’s fondly called, said they know that the economy is challenged and that the Minister was sincere enough to say it.

“What is important is to ensure that the budget works” he stated and went on to ask the Ministry of Finance to continue to engage Parliament on the challenges on time, and not when they have gone beyond control.

Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Sahr Nyuma commended the team from the Ministry of Finance for their foresight to the economy. He spoke about the reasons for the Supplementary Budget and other related challenges on the globe using comparative analysis of inflation, compounded with the Ukraine/Russia war. 

He said it was better for all and sundry to address the problem, supporting the harmonization of the Wage Bill. Hon. Nyuma emphasized economic solving problems and commended the Minister. 

He spoke about the prediction of food shortage and the Government’s subsidies to Agriculture in order to ameliorate food security. He categorically stated that fuel subsidy is not available and went on to speak about mitigation of the projection. He spoke about policy to support farmers in light of food security, and asked all to proffer solutions.

Chairman of the Finance Committee, Hon Francis Amara Kaisamba advised his colleague MPs to confine their debate on Standing Order 69, 3, which he said speaks to the matter before the House. He said they are pretty sure that money would be available to address the imaging issues. According to him, the Minister of Finance had given reasons for the Supplementary Budget and related challenges. He expressed that the Minister stated various institutions that would benefit from the Supplementary Budget and also public debts management, salaries, and wages among others. He also cited development activities.

The Chairman of Agriculture Committee in Parliament, Hon. Salieu Osman Sesay said the economy is in shambles and raised concern that, bringing the Supplementary Budget would cause more inflation.

The MP went on to urge the Minister to explain, if the Supplementary Budget would not increase the food price and affected the cost of living, alarming the cost of fuel. He used the opportunity to ask the Government to subsidize the fuel price for the people and went on to say some MDAs have not benefited from the previous budget that was approved, adding that, the Supplementary Budget is so huge. 

Hon. SOS indicated energy as one MDA that is receiving a Supplementary Budget more than its previous budget. He decried Road Maintenance Fund for not implementing projects properly as contractors are not doing well recalling instances. He asked for an effective monitoring process on projects implemented.

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Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights Opens in Freetown.

The 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, convened by the African Federation for Sexual Health and Rights and hosted by Purposeful Sierra Leone in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, on Monday 27 June, opened at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown, with a Youth Pre-Conference, held under the theme “Accelerating the Elimination of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Africa.”

Speaking at the official opening of the event, UNFPA Representative to Sierra Leone, Ms. Nadia Rasheed said UNFPA is committed to work with stakeholders including governments, civil society, youth led organisations towards accelerating progress to end gender-based violence and in creating spaces for young people’s voices to be heard on all issues affecting them.

Ms. Rasheed said, in line with its transformative agenda of accelerating progress towards ending gender based violence, UNFPA was proud to be co-sponsoring the conference and to support the participation of more than 175 young people. 

“This conference is an incredible opportunity to connect with other young people and with distinguished experts and decision makers from across the continent. It’s an opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills, to be exposed to different perspectives, and to fuel your advocacy on the issues that you are most passionate about,” she told the over 350 participants drawn from across 41 African countries.

Ms. Rasheed noted that Africa is home to 130 million girls and women who were married in childhood, 140 million girls and women who have undergone FGM, and 40 million girls who have experienced both of these harmful practices” but that despite efforts and commitments to end gender based violence, it remains a serious issue, hindering young people from reaching their full potential.  

Officially opening the conference, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Youth Affairs, Hon. Mohamed Orman Bangura indicated that now is the time to invest in young people and promote dialogue and understanding across cultures and generations that would advance human rights for all people. “To ensure that development policies work for everyone, we must use human rights as our foundation. We must promote and protect the human rights of all young people, especially the most vulnerableones,” Minister Bangura said. 

He called on leaders to listen to the voices of young people and invest in them and ensure they become part of all decision-making processes. “It is time to carry the voices of young people forward to the United Nations Summit in September, where leaders will review progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” Minister Bangura said.

Also speaking at the event was Chernor Bah, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Purposeful Sierra Leone and Conference Host. “We are a feminist organization. It was exactly because of moment like this that Purposeful was put together. We believe in young people. We are particularly excited by the fact that almost half of the delegates would be young people who are leading the change, and who are the reason that we started Purposeful as an organization,” Bah said. 

The conference brings together Civil Society, Governments, UN Agencies, human rights activists and development partners for a dialogue on a common approach to ending violence against women and girls in Africa.

© John Baimba Sesay | Web and Media Analyst UNFPA

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Domestic Revenue Collected in Quarter 1, 2022 Recorded a Shortfall of Le 330Bn- Finance Minister.

By Ishmail Saidu Kanu

“Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, following the impressive performance in 2021 on the back of the recovery in economic activities and improved tax administration, domestic revenue collection weakened during Quarter 1, 2022. Domestic revenue collected in Quarter 1, 2022, recorded a shortfall of Le 330 billion and was also lower than the amount collected during the same period in 2021. Several revenue streams were below their respective quarterly targets, including Petroleum Excise duties, Goods and Services Tax, Fisheries Royalties, and Timber Export Levy”, says Minister of Finance, Dennis Vandi.

He was presenting the Supplementary Government Budget and Statement of Economic and Financial Policies for the Financial Year, 2022 in the Well of Parliament on Friday.

The Minister said in general, the weak revenue performance can be attributed to the delay in adjusting fuel prices, reduced tax compliance, public resistance to tax reforms, especially the use of the Electronic Cash Register (ECR), and supply chain challenges in the export of bauxite and timber logs.

“Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, we are submitting to this Noble House a Supplementary Budget for the Financial Year 2022 for the following reasons: Firstly, the macroeconomic and fiscal assumptions that underlined the 2022 Budget no longer hold. As Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of agricultural and energy products, including oil, gas, metals, wheat, corn and fertiliser, countries, including Sierra Leone, are already experiencing uncertain supplies and higher prices. The sharp rise in global food and energy prices coupled with the general uncertainty has slowed down domestic economic activities, undermined domestic revenue collection and created pressures on the budget.

“Secondly, given the urgent need to protect the poor and vulnerable from the soaring food and energy prices, we will adopt mitigating measures, which I will present later in this statement.

“Thirdly, given the need to ensure fiscal and debt sustainability and to facilitate the implementation of the emerging expenditure priorities, Government engaged development partners, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank, for the provision of additional financial resources. Thankfully, reflecting Government’s commitment to implementing policy reforms, the World Bank will provide additional budget support and project grants to support energy and education programmes. We also plan to use a larger share of additional Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) allocated by the IMF to support the budget. The African Development Bank is also providing support under the African Emergency Food Production Programme. 

“Fourthly, to expand the fiscal space to finance the emerging expenditure priorities, we are introducing additional tax policy and tax administration measures. These measures are aimed at increasing domestic revenues over and above the original projection

“Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the key objectives of the Supplementary Budget are: (i) to safeguard macroeconomic stability through prudent fiscal and proactive monetary policies; (ii) to protect the vulnerable segments of our society from the higher food and fuel prices by expanding existing social safety programmes and enhancing support to the energy sector; and (iii) to complete the implementation of ongoing projects as outlined in the original 2022 budget.

Minister Vandi added that the April edition of the World Economic Outlook Report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised the projected growth of the World economy for 2022 downwards to 3.6 percent compared to the 4.4 percent projected in January 2022. Global growth is forecast to average 3.3 percent in the medium-term.

He pointed out that in Sub-Saharan Africa, the pace of the recovery that started in the second half of 2021 has slowed down significantly, reflecting the uncertainties from the spillover of the war in Ukraine combined with the high and rising food, energy and fertiliser prices, adding that Growth in the region is projected to slow down to 3.8 percent in 2022 from 4.5 percent in 2021. 

“Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, global food and fuel prices have surged during the first half of this year, reaching levels not seen since 2007 and 2008 and are projected to remain high in the near and medium term. The price of Brent crude oil is projected to average $100 per barrel in 2022, a 42 percent increase from 2021 and its highest level since 2013. Agricultural commodity prices are forecast to rise by 18 percent this year, reflecting higher costs of inputs, including fuel, chemicals, and fertiliser. Inflation is therefore projected to remain elevated in all regions of the World in 2022”, he added.

The Minister of Finance continued by saying that the spillover effects of the war are negatively affecting all facets of our economy: slow GDP growth, high inflation, weak revenue performance, increase in Government expenditures, fall in foreign reserves and adverse terms of trade. The negative impact on key sectors, including agriculture, cannot be overemphasized. 

He explained that the growth prospects of the economy in 2022 are weaker than initially anticipated. “The disruption in fertiliser supply has led to a sharp increase in the global price of fertiliser. In Sierra Leone, the price of fertiliser, including urea, which commonly used by our farmers, has increased by more than 70 percent between January and June 2022. Against the background of the general uncertainty in the global economy, combined with higher food, fuel and fertiliser prices, the initial growth projection of 5.9 percent for 2022 has been revised downwards to 3.6 percent”.

He reiterated that this Budget is a continuation of a series of interventions including improving food security, deepening investments in human capital development and protecting all vulnerable groups to enhance our economy’s resilience to shocks. 

Mr. Vandi ended by commending the Supplementary Budget and Statement of Economic and Financial Policies for the 2022 Fiscal Year to the House.

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Today, Finance Minister Tables 2022 Supplementary Budget in Parliament.

Pursuant to Section 4, subsection 1 of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act, 2016, the Minister of Finance, Dennis K. Vandi will today present a Supplementary Budget for the Financial Year 2022 in the Well of Parliament at 10am.

Section 112 (1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 authorizes the Minister responsible for finance to prepare and lay “before Parliament in each financial year estimates of the revenue and expenditures of Sierra Leone for the next following financial year.” In addition, sub-section 3, provides for the Minister to lay before Parliament a supplementary estimate when “the amount of moneys appropriated by the Appropriation Act for any purpose is insufficient or that a need has arisen for expenditure for the purpose for which no amount of money has been appropriated by that Act.

The Minister is also expected to give global and regional economic outlook in relation to Sierra Leone, and the impact of COVID-19 and gains of the Quick Action Economic Response Programme (QAERP) which has the overall goal of maintaining macro-economic and financial stability and mitigates the impact of the COVID-19 shock on businesses and households. Also on the effect of the Russia-Ukraine war on Sierra Leone’s economy. 

Vote Controllers, Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), State-Owned Enterprises, representatives of Development Partners Institutions, as well as Non-Governmental Organizations, District Budget Oversight Committee members, Local Community representatives, Non-State Actors, other Civil Society Organisations and members of the General Public are expected to witness the proceedings in the Well of Parliament.

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Trade Minister & Kuwait Minister of Commerce Discuss Investment Potential for Sierra Leone.

Trade Minister & Kuwait Minister of Commerce discuss Investment Potential for Sierra Leone

On the Margins of WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva, the Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Honourable Dr Edward Hinga Sandy, today held a productive bilateral meeting with his counterpart Minister of Commerce and Industry of Kuwait, His Excellency Mr Fahad Mutlaq Al-Shuraian. The pair discussed trade and investment opportunities in both countries. 

Minister Dr Sandy used the opportunity to articulate His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio’s positive record and transformational programme in updating Sierra Leone’s trade laws and policies aimed at creating the enabling environment for private sector investment, job creation, and guaranteeing a handsome investor return. 

The Minister of Trade and Industry maintained that the objective of Sierra Leone’s trade reform programme is to position Sierra Leone as the hub for trade and investment in the Mano River Basin.  

In his brief statement, the Trade Minister highlights the range of potential investment opportunities in Sierra Leone, citing the country’s successful transition from a war-ravaged nation to a leading example in Africa for peaceful elections, democratic governance, a rule of law nation and have had five successful transitions of governments through the ballot box. This is a nation that where businesses can thrive based on its favourable personal tax system and concessionary and competive cooperation tax regime. 

The Minister of Trade and Industry intimated his counterpart on possible Private sector areas for investment ranging from manufacturing, to agribusiness, to technology and the mining sectors in Sierra Leone.

In his response, the Minister of Commerce and Industry of Kuwait, Mr Fahad Mutlaq Al-Shuraian, thanked his colleague for the meeting and extended his felicitations on behalf of his Head of State, the Emir of Kuwait, His Highness Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Al-Sabah to His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, the government and people of Sierra Leone. 

The Kuwaiti Minister said Sierra Leone and Kuwait should each serve as a staging post for each other in their respective regions to enable their entering into new markets and the build trade relations and infrastructure necessary for export and trade promotion. 

The Minister of Commerce assured of his government’s collaboration and cooperation with Sierra Leone. Adding that his Ministry will continue to encourage the private sector in Kuwait to seize the opportunity to trade and invest in Sierra Leone.

During this meeting, the two Ministers discussed several trade and investment opportunities including the need for a Bilateral Agreement between the two countries that will focus on specific sectors for growth, such as Agriculture, Manufactory, Tourism, Infrastructure, Transport and Aviation, and Energy among others.

At the end of the meeting, the Ministers registered mutual commitments to improve their two countries’ trade relations and discussed staging a planned Investment Conference in Kuwait to bring together investors in both countries.

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National Tourism Parliamentary Governance Conference Starts Today

The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and the National Tourist Board with support from the World Bank have briefed the media ahead of the first National Tourism Parliamentary Governance conference to be held at Galliness Paradise, Bo from the 17-18 June, 2022 on the theme: the role of parliament in the development of tourism and culture in Sierra Leone.

The two-day conference which will move all the parliamentarians including the speaker of the house to Bo is aimed at deepening the knowledge and understanding of the role of parliamentarians towards helping the tourism sector overcome its prevailing challenges, enact favourable legislations, seek requisite support and collaboration of MDAs and entice key players at all levels of society to support the sector. The conference will attract speakers and presenters from different MDAs in the area of investment opportunities and asset, hospitality and law, development of SME’s, cultural heritage, marketing and promotion among others.

Mohamed Jalloh, the Director of Tourism mentioned that the tourism sector was a multi-faceted, multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional industry that requires the collaboration and contributions of plethora of sectors and players in ensuring a holistic and comprehensive development of a destination. He said they intend to familiarize parliamentarians on the framework for tourism development and their respected roles to contribute towards the empowerment of the sector. 

The chairman of the parliamentary oversight committee on Tourism and Culture, Hon. Tom Tucker thanked the Minister for her strides in uplifting the sector. He applauded the Ministry for considering the role of parliamentarians in the development of tourism saying that what will be discussed in Bo will be beneficial to them and their constituents. He said they are all eager to attend this remarkable conference as it complements their roles as members of parliament.

Giving her remarks, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt said it was not the first time the Ministry is holding conference on this nature as they have held the tourism governance framework which articulates the responsibilities and functions of all arms of government in ensuring that tourism thrives, a reason they are embedding tourism in all levels of governance.

She told the press that the essence of bringing parliament together is for them to share the common platform and think critically on the improvement of the sector. She added that the conference will alleviate the long standing challenges of the sector especially as it concerns the enactment of laws that deals with tourism. She informed the press that she has got the most standing reception from parliament while disclosing that the Speaker of Parliament will be the keynote speaker of the conference and that they will use the conference to relaunch and exhibit the explore freedom logo with the parliamentarians. 

© Information Unit, MTCA

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MTCA, NTB Validate Hospitality Management Curriculum.

MTCA, NTB validate Hospitality Management Curriculum

The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs (MTCA) and its subvented agency, the National Tourist Board (NTB) with support from the Enhanced Integrated Framework Tier 2 under the Sustainable Tourism Development and Promotion Project validated the final draft national integrated tourism, hotel and hospitality management curriculum for the tourism sector. The event was held at the Family Kingdom Resort, Aberdeen in Freetown.

In his opening remarks, the Director of Tourism, Mohamed Jalloh pinpointed that several reforms have been undertaken to address the longstanding challenges faced by the sector and thereby enhancing its competitiveness within the African continent, saying that issues relating to creation of an enabling environment for the sector to thrive, development of sites, robust and aggressive marketing among others are being addressed.

He continued that in complementing President Bio’s human capital development initiative they have embarked in an effort to improve the human resource capacity of the sector. He said the recently concluded training needs assessment highlighted weakness in human resource capacity as one of the biggest challenges faced by the sector due to an acute human resource capacity limitation, hence they hired a consultant to develop an integrated curriculum for the sector which will be utilized by educational institutions thereby strengthening their capacity. 

Articulating the rationale of the gathering, the General Manager of the National Tourist Board, Madam FatmataHamid Carew mentioned that despite the great opportunities in the sector, the sector continues to suffer from an acute human resource capacity limitation at all levels of the demand or service providers side, lack of highly qualified lecturers/trainers, weak contemporary tourism-related curriculum to inadequate modern training equipment which she said precipitated the need for the overhauling of the curriculum for the sector and the need to build the education infrastructure and capacity for the delivery of education in tourism and hospitality.

In her keynote address, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt intimated that lot has been done in putting the sector where it is today, and in order to actualize all these gains, the human resource capacity must be developed, as it also resonates with the mantra of President Bio’s human capital development drive. She maintained that the development of the human resource capacity of the sector is critical to the development of the sector, a reason she said they are providing a reference guide for the government of Sierra Leone through the Tertiary Education Commission for higher learning in tourism.

Dr. Pratt expressed her conviction that it was necessary to have a common template for tourism education in Sierra Leone. She thanked the EIF for their support in the development of the curriculum which she said will serve as a reference guide and a tool for tourism across the board. She added that they are working with the hotel association to ensure that the curriculum serves the short term courses and training needs in collaboration with existing institutions.

In his presentation of the curriculum, the Consultant, SylvanusBisodu Betts said they took two international universities in Kenya and New Zealand and two universities offering tourism in Sierra Leone as a case study for the formulation of the curriculum. He said after the completion of the courses, students will be able to understand the overall structure and operations of the tourism, hotel, hospitality industries in Sierra Leone and other parts of the world, under the roles and responsibilities of a hotelier among others. 

The chairman of the National Tourist Board, President of the hotel association and representative from the Tertiary Education Commission all made valuable inputs towards the discourse.

Group presentations on Bachelor of Science and Certificate and Diploma programs and the unanimous validation of the document climaxed the occasion.

© Information Unit, MTCA

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ACC Boss Elected Executive Member of AAACA

The Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Sierra Leone on Wednesday 22nd June, 2022, unanimously elected to serve in the Executive Committee as West African Regional Representative of the Association of Africa Anti-Corruption Authorities in the just concluded 5th Annual General Assembly meeting at the Royal Palace Hotel, Conference Centre, in Bujumbura, Burundi, East Africa.

The Executive Committee is the second highest body of the AAACA and has the responsibility to take care of the day to day affairs of the Association. Currently, the Secretariat of AAACA is in Bujumbura, Burundi. 

Francis Ben Kaifala continues to make Sierra Leone proud, as his unanimous endorsement is as a result of the the remarkable and exemplary gains he has made and continues to make in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone which the African continent continues to commend and be proud of.  His successes are well known and often referenced on the African Continent.

The erudite legal luminary, Commissioner Ben Kaifala the public may also recall was in 2020, unanimously elected to serve on the Africa Advisory Board on Corruption as member.

He is also the immediate past President of the Network of Anti-Corruption Institutions in West Africa (NACIWA).

Congratulations Commissioner for adding another feather to the cap of Sierra Leone on the Global Stage.

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Ahead of Five Bye-election Tomorrow, APC, SLPP Commit to Peace & Tolerance.

Alfred Peter Conteh (APC) & Dr. Robert Chakanda (SLPP)

 

The leadership of the All Peoples Congress (APC) and the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in the presence of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL), Office of National Security (ONS), the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) on Wednesday 22nd June 2022 signed a memorandum of Understanding ahead of the five (5) Bye-Elections on Saturday 25th June 2022.

In the MOU, both parties agreed to refrain from the use of obscene language, insulting songs, and hate speech against themselves and other state functionaries and to individually, collectively, and actively promote tolerance and condemn any act of violence and intimidation by their supporters and members throughout the electioneering cycle.

The parties also agreed to continue to obey the security sector’s ban on the use of political party marshals and that all political actors, party stalwarts, and non-accredited individuals who are not ordinarily resident nor eligible to vote in those elections must not be seen within the precincts of Polling Centres on polling day.

It was also agreed that party officials accredited will be allowed in the Constituency and Wards and that contesting political parties, their candidates, and supporters shall refrain from all forms of violence.

Parliamentary Bye-election will be conducted in Constituency 056 Tonkolili District, and Local Council Bye-Elections in Ward 031 in

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Kenema, Ward 138 in Falaba, Ward 212 in Karene, Wards 239 and 252 in Port Loko District On Saturday, 25th June 2022.

Sierra Leone and Saudi Arabia Sign Bilateral Agreement for Domestic and General Workers.

The Minister of Labour and Social Security of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mr. Alpha Osman Timbo and the Vice Minister for Labour Affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Abdullah Nasser Abuthnain, have signed bilateral agreements for the recruitment of domestic and general workers between the two countries. 

The two agreements which were signed at the Hilton Honours Hotel in Riyadh by the two Ministers relate to the recruitment of domestic and general workers from Sierra Leone for both the Public and Private sectors in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Labour and Social Security of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mr. Alpha Osman Timbo, said he was in Saudi Arabia on behalf of His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, the Government and the people of Sierra Leone to sign the “workers’ recruitment agreements” which the two countries had been working on for the past two years. 

Mr. Timbo commended Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Dr. Ibrahim Jalloh and the Embassy for facilitating the process on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone. 

The Minister said the New Direction administration of President Bio believes in Human Capital Development, adding that Sierra Leone was looking forward to marketing its labour force globally, and Saudi Arabia was considered as one of those ideal places.

“Your Excellency, we believe with the signing of these agreements and ensuring that we regulate the process itself to ensure a smooth and orderly migration, both countries would benefit from the relationship. As a government, we believe in our people. Our country is predominantly Muslim and most of the people aspiring to come and work in Saudi Arabia are also Muslims and we also share similar cultures and values,” Mr. Timbo assured. 

He said he was confident that the two countries were sowing a seed that germinate to benefit generations yet unborn. 

Earlier, the Vice Minister for Labour, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Abdullah Nasser Abuthnain welcomed Mr. Timbo, noting that the Government of Saudi Arabia was pleased to sign the recruitment agreements with Sierra Leone. 

“Saudi Arabia values its bilateral relations with the Republic of Sierra Leone and we are pleased to gather here with you today on this special occasion for the signing of the recruitment agreements between our two ministries. These agreements would pave the way for fruitful bilateral cooperation in the labour field for both countries,” the Saudi Vice Minister for Labour Affairs noted.

Minister Timbo was accompanied by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, his Deputy Mohamed Hassan Koroma, Rev. Dr. A.K Ocansey, Founder and CEO SOS Ghana and Consultant to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Head of Chancery, Ahmed Tejan Kabba, First Secretary, Mohamed S. Sankoh and the Information Attaché at the Embassy, Abubakarr Bah.

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Minister of Planning Receives CARL’s Report on the Impact of DCF on NGO Operations in Sierra Leone

The Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai has on Tuesday, 7th June 2022 received a report from the Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL) and the Institute of Governance Reform (IGR) titled: “Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 Responses on Governance and Accountability Processes in Sierra Leone”, with support from the Irish Aid in Sierra Leone. 

The report presents an assessment of the impact of the Development Cooperation Framework (DCF) on NGOs and CSOs after two years of implementation by the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Planning and Economic (MoPED). It also discusses the implication of retaining the policy for NGOs/CSOs working in Sierra Leone. 

Making the presentation, the Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Claire Buckley thanked the Ministry for their show of commitment to a spirit of partnership, which according to her, was evident in its setting up of a dedicated DCF Committee, comprising key NGO and national partners, to review the DCF/NGO regulations after two years of implementation. 

She said strengthening civil society capacity and space was an important policy and programming for Ireland, adding that the civil societies have a critical role in promoting inclusive and accountable democratic institutions and processes. 

On his part, the Minister thanked the Irish Ambassador for the support they have provided for the DCF review process, noting that it was very timely and coming at a time the DCF was been reviewed. 

He said that he was pleased that the document would contribute to the body of knowledge already available in the operation of the framework. 

“This particular document is spot on and I am sure it will inform the current review process conducted by the DCF Committee. The Irish Embassy are one of our key partners that cover very significant areas in our development trajectory”, said Dr. Kai-Kai. 

He said as a Ministry, they would continue to create the enabling environment for NGOs and CSOs to organise and engage with government.

As you may be aware, the Ministry had set up a committee that comprises NGOs, CSOs, and other partners to review the current Development Cooperation Framework— the regulatory policy guidelines for non-governmental organization in the country. 

©️MoPED COMMS TEAM

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Former Housemate Ina Cole Aims Big

Former Housemate Ina Cole Aims Big

By Ishmail Saidu Kanu

Former Housemate and CEO of Luxury Beauty Queen, Ina Elizabeth Cole, is aiming at setting up a hair beauty company in Sierra Leone.

This is part of her plan after her exit from the 2022 Housemate Salone Reality TV Show on AYV where she spent two productive weeks.

Ina, raised by a single parent at Goderich, shared her experience with Tribune Times during her time in the House where she interacted with old friends and made new ones. She described her two-week stay in the House as a ‘good journey’.

“I feel excited when I was told I had qualified to enter the house. I was so so happy because I had got the feeling that they would not shortlist me. A lot of people made several attempts to go into the house but they could not succeed. I was actually surprised,” she says.

The 27-year-old hair vendor added: “When I entered the house, I showcased hair products. I was also helping in doing some domestic work.

“The experience in the house was awesome. I met people from different backgrounds, interacted with them and gained knowledge from them. My best friend in the House was Yeani. She was really friendly.

“My expectation was to stay much longer in the House. It was like a shock to me when my name was announced as one of the evictees, but I honestly learnt a lot in the House including how to be self-minded.”

Ina is planning to get a very big platform on the social media. “One of my platforms is the Luxury Beauty Queen. We aim to turn this into a manufacturing company in the near future,” she adds. 

Speaking on women’s empowerment, the former Houseman says she aims to upgrade women from doing hair sales, hair maintenance and hair plaiting to luxury design in the near future. “This would help keep women to remain engaged and prevent them from being bullied by men,” she remarks.

She surmises by thanking her fans, especially those who voted for her, her family and manager, Dalton Shyllon. 

According to Manager Shyllon, they want to make the Luxury Beauty Queen the ‘most wanted’ and talked about brand in the beauty industry. 

“The various platforms of Ina Elizabeth Cole will help bring children closer to her because of her soft spot for children, especially those under-privileged children.”

“Ina understands the plight those children are facing, so she knows what to do when it comes to their welfare. Some children in this Goderich community do not have parents. Some struggle for food on a daily basis,” Manager Dalton reveals.

He continues: “So this is the platform we are trying to build. We are also trying to have a Public Relations firm where Ina would be a Brand Ambassador to advocate for less-privilege children as well as promoting her luxury business.” 

“We have good hair products, and we are aiming for the biggest hair salon in Sierra Leone where we could have various factories and malls for air maintenance and other hair businesses,” he explains.

On Ina, Manager Shyllon says Ina did not only go into the Housemate Salone programme for the sake of it but to create a platform for a bigger project. “That’s what we are aiming at achieving. We know it’s going to be challenging, but we know with the help of the media, we will pull it through.”

He states that Ina Elizabeth Cole is also qualified to work as PR Consultant and Brand Ambassador. 

Meanwhile, Ina attended St. Joseph’s Secondary School and later went to Ghana where she studied Database Technology at IPMC in Accra.

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